Malnutrition: Communication Expert Advocates Community-driven Solution

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Mrs el-Rufai, KADENAP Chairperson

By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna


Mr Charles Agbonifo, UNICEF Resource Person, has advocated for a community driven solution to end malnutrition in the country.
Agbonifo made the call in Kachia at a three-day meeting to finalise Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Social and Behavioural Change Communication Strategy (SBCC) 2016 to 2020 for Kaduna State.
He spoke on “Missing Link: Understanding Social Behavioural Change Communication as Communication for Development Strategy”.
The meeting was organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in collaboration with UNICEF.
Agbonifo explained that there must be a shift in approach from expert driven solutions to community-driven solution with the communities serving as the drivers of behavioural change toward good nutritional practices.
According to him, the current expert-driven approach is not yielding desired results because the community are not involved in driving solutions to malnutrition.
“Early initiation of breast feeding, practice of exclusive breast feeding and appropriate complementary feeding are practices that could easily be encourage if the communities are empowered to lead the behavioural change.
“But in most cases, it is experts that drive this process which explained the low practice of early initiation of breast feeding, exclusive breast feeding and good complementary feeding.”
He also called for a shift from dishing out messages communities to dialogue and engagement; from individual behaviour to collective social change for maximum result.
“We also need to shift from beneficiary driven to human right approach to broaden the acceptability of good nutritional practices in our communities.
“We must equally change from ad hoc interventions to strategic, systematic, evidence-based and long term interventions for maximum result,’’ he added.
Agbonifo further stressed the need for reports to focus on assessment of reach, changes and interaction between service provider and participants.
Earlier, the state’s Nutrition Officer, Hajiya Hauwa Usman, said that maternal, infant and young child feeding practices have remained unsatisfactory.
According to her, the rate of timely breastfeeding initiation is 28.9 per cent, adding that only 19.7 per cent mothers practice exclusive breastfeeding.
“Similarly, only 10 per cent of children age six to 23 months, were fed appropriately.
“This resulted in 11.7 per cent of under five years children faced with acute undernutrition, 47 per cent are stunted and 27 per cent severely malnourished.
“Currently, infant mortality rate is 103 per 1000 live birth and under five mortality rate is 169 per 1000 live birth.”
Kaduna state had in October 2017 commenced the process for the domestication of the National IYCF SBCC strategy with a view to improve the nutrition status of infant and young children in the state.
The document provides strategic guidelines in the implementation of IYCF SBCC strategy in the country.
The strategy was hinged on effective advocacy and social mobilisation to change people’s behaviour, toward effective infant and young child feeding that will ensure healthy development of the child.
The goal was to use communication to change people’s behaviour towards IYCF practices that would improve the nutritional status, growth, development, health, and survival of infants and young children in the state.

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