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Group, traditional rulers to promote infant feeding

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A non-governmental organisation (NGO), Alive and Thrive (A&T), yesterday in Kaduna solicited for the support of traditional leaders towards promoting adequate Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) for the development and survival of children in the state.
The group, led by Mr. Christopher Musa, made the appeal at a one-day orientation programme, organised for 23 Focal Persons of the state’s Traditional Leaders Committee on Health.
Musa said that engaging the traditional leaders in infant feeding would help in a long way in sensitising their communities adequately on IYCF campaign.
He explained that the A&T IYCF programme, which would run in the state from 2016 to 2020, was an initiative designed to save lives, prevent illness, ensure healthy growth and development of children through improved feeding practices.
He explained that adequate IYCF practice required the practice of exclusive breastfeeding for a child in the first six months, after which the caregivers are expected to introduce adequate complementary feeding from animal food, staples, roots and tubers, legumes, fruits and vegetables.
He said: “This is because infant and young child need the right food at the right time to grow and develop their full potential. The most critical time for good nutrition is the first 1,000 days of a child, because it determines whether the child would develop fully to exploit his potential or impaired with brain damage due to malnutrition.

“Therefore, we need the support of traditional rulers to help in spreading the IYCF messages and mobilise their community members to embrace adequate IYCF practices,” he said.

The objective of the orientation was to sensitise the committee on A&T supported IYCF programme in the state and the role traditional rulers could play in improving the programme.

He added that the orientation would also help explore areas of collaboration, particularly on sensitisation, mobilisation and monitoring of IYCF at community levels.

According to him, traditional rulers could help in influencing appropriate behavioural change in communities toward adequate infant and young child feeding practice.

“We are implementing the IYCF programmes in 16 local government areas of the state, which are Giwa, Kaduna North, Chikun, Kajuru, Igabi, Makarfi, Zaria, Ikara, Kauru, Lere, Kachia, Zangon Kataf, Kaura, Jaba Soba and Sanga.

“The traditional rulers could also help us to identify traditional birth attendants in their various communities so they would be train to promote early initiation of breastfeeding and other IYCF practices,” the group added.

Responding, the Chairman of the committee, Dr. Muhammed Abdulkadir, noted that one of the roles of traditional leaders was to mobilise their respective communities to embrace good programmes from government and other relevant stakeholders.

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