By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – The President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, (NSN), Dr. Bartholomew Brai, said that Nigeria has recorded some progress in the under-five stunting and Exclusive Breastfeeding, (EBF); while still on course in achieving the target for under-five overweight.
He made the disclosure at the Kaduna Breastfeeding Hero Awards organized by Alive and Thrive in Collaboration with the NSN, in Kaduna on Thursday.
According to him, these data calls for concerted efforts at National, State and Local levels to improve maternal, infant and young child nutrition; pointing out that there is no doubt that maternal nutrition education and enlightenment campaigns at all levels are required to tackle maternal and child nutrition issues in Nigeria.
Speaking on the topic: “Protection, Promotion and Support (2PS) for Proper Infant and Young Child Feeding Practices (IYCF) for Sustainable Development: Everyone’s Business” Dr. Brai, said that it was very important to note that the task of improving infant and young child nutrition is a collective responsibility involving all stakeholders.
He said it was imperative to support healthy maternal diet and gestational weight gain during pregnancy in addition to tailored, culturally resonant nutrition education and counseling on diet during pregnancy and lactation.
The NSN President also said that understanding appropriate IYCF practices and implementing same by mothers and other care-givers for infants and children is necessary to ensure proper growth and cognitive development of a child; saying optimal IYCF rank among the most effective interventions to improve child health.
“These require routine health contacts at health facilities and community-based platforms. Maternal nutrition education with simple messages tailored for low-income families will improve child feeding practices and subsequently child growth and development.
“Therefore, all stakeholders must work together to improve infant and young child nutrition in Nigeria. One key area that requires emphasis is provision of adequate nutrition in the first 1000 days of a child.
“The first 1000 days includes 9 months of pregnancy (270 days) and the first 2 years (365 days X 2 = 730 days). Adequate nutrition in this period is critical to child’s brain and body development which rely on good nutrition. In addition, it presents a window of opportunity that will have a significant impact on child’s ability to learn and rise out of poverty, boost productivity and have great potential in improving economic prospects of families and communities,” he said.
While commending the Alive and Thrive project in the state on Social and Behaviour Change Communication (SBCC) for the improvement of IYCF practices for recording a huge success, he said the recognition of some key stakeholders’ roles in the successes recorded is expected to encourage more commitment in ensuring adequate nutrition for infants and children in the State.