Link Nutrition Reportage to Relevant Sectors to Stem Negative Indices – Group Task Journalists

By Uangbaoje Alex, Kaduna

Following low visibility of nutrition stories in the Nigeria media space, journalists have been tasked to link nutrition to other relevant sectors, such as agric, WASH, education, etc to reverse the negative indices of malnutrition.

The call was contained in a communique issued at the end of a 3-day capacity building of journalists for improved nutrition reportage and visibility organized by Civil Society -Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN).

According to the communique, there is need for journalists to improve their skills in understanding the art of writing compelling and impact driven nutrition stories.

They noted that the media are partners in progress in addressing the menace of malnutrition and therefore charged journalists to understand their roles and powers in changing the malnutrition indices in Nigeria

“Media practitioners should embrace a paradigm shift from event-based reporting to solutions journalism in the context of nutrition research. Journalists should be creative and innovative in their reportage of nutrition issues.

“The media should drive discussions around nutrition with all relevant stakeholders, stories from media practitioners on nutrition should be compelling and solutions based with in-depth research. The communique said.

The added that the “media should not concentrate on health pages and programs alone but look into other non-health related issues and link nutrition to them. Journalists should explore collaborative story development, cross border reporting with adequate scientific research and data analysis for greater development impact.

“Journalists should develop skills to monitor, track, analyse and report budgetary allocations for nutrition.”

They encouraged journalists to embark on field investigations on Community-based related interventions such as Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) centres, etc and translate findings from the field to stories.

On issue of inadequate funding by the government which serves as a major driver of malnutrition the group urged government to improve investments for nutrition programs.

They task government to move from emergency treatment of malnutrition to preventive and provision of routine nutritional services.

The three-day media training was aimed at improving the understanding of the media on the impact of malnutrition, improving the media’s capacity for effective nutrition reporting and securing their commitment to write nutrition stories based on agreed nutrition themes.

The meeting was in line with CS-SUNN’s goal of building key partnerships with the media to magnify the voice for improved nutrition in Nigeria. It will ensure opportunities to raise awareness, build understanding, change perceptions, and motivate target audiences to act on nutrition issues to reverse the negative indices.

Participants were drawn from media platforms including; Television, Radio, Newspapers and Online from five (5) States of Lagos, Nasarawa, Niger, Kaduna and Kano including Abuja where CS-SUNN is currently implementing the Partnership for Improving Nigeria Nutrition Systems (PINNS) 2.0 project.

CS-SUNN Sharpen Journalists Capacity to tackle High Malnutrition Rate in Nigeria

By Uangbaoje Alex, Abuja

As part of effort to increase reportage of nutrition issues in Nigeria, Civil Society -Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), has said it is important that capacity of journalists sharpened to help reduce the high rate of malnutrition in the country.

Executive Secretary (ES) of CS-SUNN, Sunday Okoronkwo, who noted this on Wednesday in Abuja, at a three days media training for journalists, with the theme: “Strengthening the Capacity of Journalists for Improved Nutrition Reportage and Visibility” aimed at improving their capacity for effective nutrition reporting, identified the media as critical stakeholders in fight against malnutrition.

He said despite the efforts by the media, there is still the need for them to do more in projecting in issues of malnutrition to the front burner.

“The media is one of our critical partners, without them we won’t be able to achieve our objectives that we have signed up to do in trying to bring malnutrition to it’s barest minimum.

“I must use this opportunity to commend you in your work with us in the last 6 to 7 years, it has been a fruitful one, you have contributed immensely to contributed to magnifying some of the issues and I tell you the drop of the wasting rate between 2018 and 2020, the media played a critical role in making it happen, I must commend us.” He noted.

The ES, added that “We see this training as a way of supporting the media to get the needed information, data and statistics that they would need to write stories that would contribute more to the fight against malnutrition.

“I say so because there is still a lot more work to be done, because if you look at our stunting rate, it is still very high, so we still need to do more. I believe that your pen is mightier than the sword, the truth is that holding government and every other stakeholders accountable is one thing that we most all do and our role is to ensure there’s reduction in malnutrition in the country.”

On her part, the Communication Officer of CS-SUNN, Lilian Okafor, stated that the strengthening the capacity of journalists became imperative because all the stakeholders working to ensure an end to malnutrition are struggling to find a way out because of the low level of reportage.

“Today more than ever, nutrition advocates including CS-SUNN struggle to find ways to raise awareness,
build understanding, change perceptions, and motivate target audiences to act on nutrition issues to reverse the negative indices.” She said.

She noted that in best pathway to quickly disseminate information, increase understanding, build momentum, and unify support for nutrition is to engage the media.

“It is however important to build the capacity of the media to bring to the fore, issues relating to nutrition while bringing to limelight funding gaps and placing nutrition in the front burners of the agenda of policy makers to improve
interventions and funding for nutrition.

“Also, the informative, enlightenment,
watch dogging and agenda-setting roles of the Media cannot be overemphasized.

“It is therefore in line with CS-SUNN’s goal of building key partnerships especially with the media to magnify the voice for improved nutrition in Nigeria, that the alliance organized this media training aimed at; improving the understanding of media practitioners on the impacts of malnutrition, improving
the media’s capacity for effective nutrition reporting and securing their commitment to write nutrition
stories based on agreed nutrition themes”. She added.

Kaduna Loses 124 Children to Malnutrition in 9months

No fewer than 124 children have died of malnutrition in Kaduna State between January and September with 15,329 cured of the diseases within the same period.

The State Nutrition Officer, Mrs Ramatu Musa, disclosed this in Kaduna on Thursday while presenting the nutrition situation in the state at a two-day meeting organised by Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria.

The meeting was organised to strengthen advocacy skills and capacity of health and nutrition CSOs, media and government officials, to identify areas of priorities in nutrition interventions.

Musa, who was represented by Mr Jibril Isah, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Kaduna State Primary Health Care Development Board, said that a total of 21,265 malnourished children under five years were admitted.

She said that they were admitted in various Community Management of Acute Malnutrition in the state.

“Out of the figure, 124 children died of the diseases, 15,329 cured, 324 did not recover, 2,188 defaulted on treatment and 199 with complications referred to stabilisation centres across the state and 3,101 are undergoing treatment.

“Currently, CMAM is being implemented in 77 health facilities in 15 Local Government Areas of the state, while Infant and Young Child Feeding is being implemented in 13 LGAs.

“We equally have 796 trained Community Volunteers, 45 in each LGA except Igabi with 63 and Kajuru 238 mobilising community members for optimal IYCF practices,” he said.

She said that a total of 95,906 mothers, women, grandmothers, and men were reached with IYCF messages by 904 support groups in the state.

The nutrition officer said that out of the figure, 27,469 pregnant women were reached, 24,767 mothers of children less than six months of age, and 23,993 mothers of children six to 23 months.

She identified others as 19,448 women of childbearing age, 12,762 grandmothers and 7,467 men, adding that 13,473 children under five years were referred to health facilities for treatment.

The CS-SUNN Coordinator in the state, Mr Silas Ideva, described the development as “worrisome”, pointing out that malnutrition was killing more children than COVID-19.

According to him, COVID-19 so far killed 43 people in the state based on the data by the National Centre for Disease Control, compared to the 124 killed by malnutrition in nine months.

Ideva stressed that with poor funding and budget release for nutrition intervention, more children would continue to die of malnutrition.

The National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS 2018) puts the number of Moderate Acute Malnourished children under five years in the state at 4.8 per cent.

The figure translates to 85,450 children according to official reports by SPHCDB, who are more likely to die if nothing is done to reverse the condition.

The survey also puts the percentage of stunted children at 48.1 per cent, representing 856,272 children under five years, whose future is bleak due to impaired brain development caused by malnutrition.

Research shows that stunting is irreversible, meaning that the 856,272 children may be under-productive and may become a burden to their society and the nation due to poor cognitive development.

The state government has allocated only N188 million for nutrition activities in its proposed 2021 budget against the N500 million allocated in 2020 which was later reviewed to N300 million due to COVID-19.

Investment in Malnutrition Will Get Nigeria Out of Poverty – Expert … UNICEF Reaches 1, 239, 802 with Vitamin A in 2 North East States

By Alex Uangbaoje, Yola

An expert on nutrition, Dr. Bamidele Omotola, has revealed that investing in children’s nutrition offers some of the greatest opportunities for social and economic change in Africa.

According to Dr. Omotola, every single dollar invested in reducing stunting among children in Africa, there’s a return on investment of $16 which is capable of bringing Africa and Nigeria in particular out of poverty.

The nutrition Consultant, who stated this in Yola, Adamawa State, on Friday, at a media dialogue on child malnutrition with a theme: “Investing in Child Malnutrition for Future”, added that, about 33 per cent of Nigerians will get out of extreme poverty if the country successfully tackles malnutrition.

“If Nigeria overcomes the menace of malnutrition, 33 per cent of poor people will get out of extreme poverty and give their own children a better chance at life.” Dr. Omotola added.

A report by Brookings Institution had recently said Nigeria has become poverty headquartersb in the world, ahead of India.

He said malnourished children have zero potential to contribute to any country’s economy, adding that, fight against malnutrition has become imperative for Nigeria because any economy where 50 per cent of the children are stunted or wasted is doomed.

The nutrition expert, warned that children with severe form of acute malnutrition has nine fold risk of death compare to well nourished children. He said one in five children with severe acute malnutrition cases would die if treatment is not provided at right time.

He therefore called for investment to ensure food security to end extreme hunger by 2030, the second goal of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The media dialogue was organized by Child Rights Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) supported by the Department for International Development (DFID).

In his presentation, Dr. Martins Jackson, Nutrition Officer, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, said, UNICEF, has reached, 1, 239, 802 children of age 5-59 months with vitamin A supplement, through the Integrated Basic Nutrition Response to the Humanitarian Crisis in Borno and Yobe including multsectorial pilot (INP+) projects supported by DFID since July 2017 til date.

“195, 000 pregnant women with Iron/Folate supplement, 38,700 children with acute malnutrition admitted for treatment. While 32,300 pregnant women received N5000 monthly and 6,500 community members were reached with Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), activities in pilot LGAs of; Maiduguri Municipal Council, Jere, Konduga, Bayo, Biu, Kwaya Kasu, Shani, Askira Uba and Hawul in Borno state.

“And also Tarmua, Gujba and Nangere in Yobe State respectively.

“DFID contribution, also procured a bit more than 200,000 carton of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) enough to covers 240,000 children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).” Added.

Child Rights Expert Calls for Concerted Effort in Fight Against Malnutrition

Child Rights Expert Calls for Concerted Effort in Fight Against Malnutrition

By Alex Uangbaoje, Yola


A child rights expert at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture (FMIC), has call for a concerted effort in fight against malnutrition in Nigeria, especially in the North Eastern part of Nigeria.

Mr. Olumide Osanyinpeju, Deputy Director/Head, Child Rights Information Bureau of FMIC, who made call in Yola Adamawa State on Friday, at Media Dialogue on Child Malnutrition, with theme: “Investing in child malnutrition for the future”, noted that there is need for investing in child malnutrition for the future, raising awareness and understanding on the problem of malnutrition in Nigeria and resource allocation for food and nutrition security at all levels.

According to him, “it is imperative to combat Malnutrition, because it can cause death in young children, particularly those under five years of age. There should be concerted effort to fight malnutrition out in totality to ensure the attainment of desired results.

“Malnutrition is a large burden to a country, and tackling malnutrition entails empowering and educating people. Improved nutrition is the key to improved national and human development and this can be done by educating the populace and creating a positive approach towards nutrition.

“Addressing nutrition is one of the ways through which sustainable development goals can be achieved, therefore investment in nutrition will help reduce the negative trend of malnutrition which has been ensured by the creation of this dialogue.”

Mr. Osanyinpeju, however, commend UNICEF for their unyielding partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria, and for their contributions towards all activities being carried out to uphold the rights of the Nigerian children.

“I wish to specifically note the constant support of the Media and External Relations Section, and the consistent efforts at ensuring that the wellbeing of our children is promoted through the various interventions of the Section, one of which is continuous dialogues with members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm.

“I also wish to appreciate the collaboration of DFID and our sister Ministry in this stride- the Federal Ministry of Health and other line Partners here present who have worked relentlessly for the progress of this process.

“We highly acknowledge your priceless contributions towards promoting the health of Nigerian mothers and children, and in ensuring that the goals of the health strategies targeted at them are met through constant dialogues.” He said.

He charged Journalists to come together in leadership to take actions on malnutrition for a better growth and well-nourished Nigeria in the future, adding, “distinguished Media Personalities, we have to define the strategic objectives of improving food security at the national, community and household levels.

“To reduce malnutrition among infants and children, adolescents and women of reproductive age; to significantly reduce micronutrient deficiency disorders, especially among the vulnerable group and to increase the knowledge of nutrition among the populace and nutrition education into formal and informal trainings.

“On Air Personalities are encouraged, in your programmes to raise awareness and understanding of the problem of malnutrition in Nigeria and resource allocation for food and nutrition security at all levels. It is necessary that awareness be created amongst Nigerian populace especially for mothers; both lactating and non-lactating mothers to give within the first six (6) months of birth the breast milk which is enough for the infant, as nutrition is the key to national development.

“Adequate attention should be given to the nutrition of women especially pregnant women to reduce severe and acute malnutrition. Let us share the vision to see that every citizen has food that is nutrition secured by mobilizing people at grass root level to know their rights with regards to food by involving policy makers. Work with the government and see how to tackle the issue of stunting, wasting and obesity to its minimal level.”

Explaining the essence of the meeting, Sam Kali, UNICEF Communication Specialist, said, the idea is to sensitise journalists on the current situation of child malnutrition in the northeast and what UNICEF, donors, partners and
government are doing to change the situation.

“It is also met to solicit media support and buy-in for the fight against child
malnutrition in the northeast and define roles On-Air-Personalities (AOPs) could perform to help. To equip announcers, presenters, AOPs with key messages on nutrition.

“Commitment elicited from OAPs/participants on use of key messages on child malnutrition in their daily presentations OAPs-announcers, presenters, equipped with key messages on child nutrition. Strategic partnership forged with on air personalities on the fight against child malnutrition in the northeast.” He added.

The 2-days dialogue with journalists, organized by UNICEF, is discussing the management of severe acute Malnutrition in the North East, of Adamawa, Yobe and Borno and the intervention by DFID.

World AIDS Day Campaign: UNICEF, KADSACA Targets Rural Communities

By Alex Uangbaoje, Kaduna

As part of activities to commemorate the 2018 World AIDS Day, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said her campaigns would be targeted at rural communities in Kaduna State.

Dr. Idris Baba, HIV/AIDS Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna Field Office, who disclosed this in Kaduna at weekend, stated that activities for this year’s commemoration would be carried out in rural communities where its Adolescents and Young Persons, (AYPs) intervention programme is currently ongoing.

According to Dr. Baba, the communities are located in seven Local Government Areas of Jaba, Jema’a, Lere, Kagarko, Birnin Gwari, Igabi and Chikun, where access to HIV/AIDS services and information are not adequate like the urban centres.

This year’s World AIDS Day campaign tagged “#IsabiHIV” was flagged off at the National Youth Service Corp, (NYSC) Kaduna orientation Camp on Friday, by UNICEF and the Kaduna State AIDS Control Agency, (KADSACA).

The agencies, cites twelve HIV testing and counseling centres at the NYSC camp ground under the supervision of UNICEF Local Government Team (LGT) from Chikun.

The HIV/AIDS Specialist, explained that there are about 468 AYP Volunteers (ages 14 – 25) working hard in their respective communities together with UNICEF LGT to create awareness and provide testing and counseling services to Adolescents and Young Persons in the seven LGAs.

“We want to ensure that in the next couple of days they intensify their work in this LGAs to reach more AYPs and also make sure that those who are HIV positive are linked go treatment.”

Dr. Baba further said that UNICEF would also engaged the Corp members, and already has come up with national campaign of HIV branded; #IsabiHIV which is at the NYSC camp which would from there moved into the communities.

“We are actually kick-starting from the camp immediately and we hope that the campaign would create the necessary hype required so that people are better informed about what is happening on the World AIDS day; as well availed them the opportunity to know their HIV status,” he said.

He commended the State Government for working hard with development partners to further bring down the Prevalence Rate (PR) from 2.2 per cent to the current 1.1 per cent.

“The population of Kaduna state in terms of number is large, so for every point dropped in percentage for the state means a lot for the country being the 3rd most populous state in Nigeria. So any change in trajectory in the state would mean changing the trajectory for the country,” he said.

The Executive Secretary, KADSACA, Dr. Mark Anthony, said Kaduna state has a cause to celebrate this year’s World AIDS day, but quickly added that it was not yet Uhuru, as the target is to attain zero infection by 2030.

According to him, this year’s World AIDS day theme, “Know Your HIV Status” will lead to the increase of coverage of those that know their status from the current 34 per cent to 90 per cent by 2030 in the state.

Speaking at the NYSC camp, the KADSACA boss said services were being provided, but first people should know their HIV status, adding that treatment which is the bedrock of prevention would follow as the drugs are effective.

He said that the AYPs are the target group by government to access the services, hence the involvement of Corp members, adding that UNICEF has been the bedrock of support to the programme.

The State Coordinator, NYSC Kaduna, Mrs. Walida Siddique Isa, assured of the Corp cooperation and to partner KADSACA for the project.

Speaking through the Camp Director, Mr. Sam Nkwopara, she said the whole camp is awash with HIV campaign.

A male beneficiary, 27 years old, who was very excited said he has just been tested. He informed to a reasonable extent he is aware of the #IsabiHIV Campaign meant to enlighten people more on HIV, the mode of transmission and how one could prevent it.

He said there is a need for people to go for the test, know their status and also be oriented on how HIV could be prevented so that they could be ambassadors of HIV/AIDS the movement that is ongoing.

“That is why when I came for this test I also invited my roommates and they are all here. After the test they too were very excited. For me I am so happy after knowing my status,” he said.

Also, a 21 years old female beneficiary, disclosed that she got tested on Thursday and as at the time of speaking to the media her joy knows no bound when she knew her status.

she disclosed that she now feel bold and confident, with a promise that, henceforth she will try to live safe and stay free, adding that if she must use any sharp object she will make sure it is sterilized.

“To the young people, I would want them to get tested to know their status because it is better to know one’s status so that in case of anything you could do something about it immediately. HIV is real so let everyone get tested,” she said.

Similarly, another female, 24 years old disclosed that she came out to be tested to actually know her status, and now that she knows it, she is very happy.

“Initially, I was very scared but immediately after the test, I became very happy. I have called my other friends to come and experience what I have seen because I am very happy.

“My advice to AYPs is abstinence, but in a situation where it can’t work, the person should protect himself or herself,” she admonished.