By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
The Kaduna State Commissioner of Planning and Budget Commission, Mr. Thomas Gyang, has admitted that nutrition in the state is chronically underfunded.
Mr. Gyang, who spoke at the state Policy Dialogue on Nutrition Policy, with the theme: “Emerging Opportunities and Innovative Financing Options for Nutrition Interventions” in Kaduna State, organized by Planning and Budget Commission, with support from Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), on Friday, said the state needs to see more investment cases for integrated approaches to delivering State health interventions.
Organizers said the dialogue was targeted to provide update on the nutritional status and burden of malnutrition to key stakeholders in Kaduna State. Orient key stakeholders on existing policies and plans that address malnutrition and related issues in Kaduna State and to also clarify key stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities towards delivery of nutrition results in the state.
Identify opportunities as well as potential barriers and challenges to the implementation of existing policies and plans for nutrition in the state, make recommendations and agree next steps towards improving the nutrition outcomes of all people, especially women and children, in Kaduna State.
According to the Commissioner, “Nutrition in the State looks chronically underfunded, and a focused fund that would position and brand nutrition as a smart investment may just be what we require to attract other resources from the private sector.
“There are three reasons to be optimistic about the use of innovative financing for nutrition: 1) a strong investment case for solving malnutrition, 2) an opportunity to fix certain inefficiencies in the market, and 3) a viable commercial market for nutrition products.
“We need to see more investment cases for integrated approaches to delivering State health interventions, as well as seek opportunities to build or leverage innovative financing mechanisms. Regular progress measurement and analysis alongside a culture of performance is core to the Kaduna State Policy on Nutrition.”
He appreciate CS-SUNN for making the meeting possible, adding, “along with CS-SUNN, I am quite mindful that we are still counting on UNICEF, Save the Children, Alive and Thrive, ANRIN (World Bank Project), UNFPA and GAIN who are tirelessly supporting us in this journey. I gladly appreciate all of you and warmly welcome our Partners that have found time to be here with us today.”
Mr. Gyang, further said “it is indeed a unique thought by the organizers of this event, as successful financing mechanisms are usually focused, they drive results, increase partnerships, are effective in raising the priorities of the issue, and bring robust accountability frameworks.
“The Kaduna State Nutrition Policy is carrying an array of complexities and challenges, thus, the need for the dialogue we are holding today. We want to search for ways to improve food security and nutrition in the State, as this would require a well-coordinated multi-sectoral action.
“We want mechanisms which will tackle our challenges and pave way towards good and affordable results. In order to get this done effectively, we would be engaging ourselves here in a series of mind tapping technical and policy discussions.
In her goodwill message, Mrs. Chinwe Ezeife, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Kaduna Field Office, Nutrition Specialist, said the dialogue was very important to UNICEF, because it will address issues of child development and survival.
Mrs. Chinwe, who represented the Chief of Field Office, Dr. Adam Zakari, added “while we congratulate the Kaduna State for doing very well in reducing malnutrition, we ask that they do more.
“This is because we are still seeing a high rate of stunted children in Kaduna and that is not acceptable, it means that a lot more needs to be done”.