Gyang Bere, Jos
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has encouraged pregnant women in Plateau state to always give exclusive breastfeeding to provide food security for infants.
Mr Bahnu Pathak, the Chief of UNICEF’s Bauchi Field Office disclosed this on Monday during a three-day training on infants and Young Child Feeding organised in collaboration with the Plateau State Primary Health Care Board (PSHPHCB) for health workers in Jos, Plateau State.
He said the training aimed at preventing malnutrition among children in the state.
Represented by Dr. Rajia Sharhan, the Nutrition Specialist in the Field Office, Pathak said UNICEF has a responsibility to cater for the nutrition needs and development of every child below the age of five.
“Breastfeeding has countless benefits for mothers, children and families. Breast feeding provides total food security for infants which is available, affordable and nutritious food for infants up to six months of age and continuously up to 2 years and beyond.”
Pathak, who decried the soaring rate of malnutrition among children in the north, explained that the training would provide a long term solution to the imminent challenge, particularly stunting.
“UNICEF is responsible for the nutrition need and development of every child under-five, so this training is one vital exercises for the prevention of malnutrition in children.
“It is developed and initiated to prevent future malnuarished children. This simply means that we are not just concern about the now, but the future consequences of malnutrition.
“We have seen that malnutrition among children is on the rise, particularly in the north and if nothing is urgently done we will be in for it.
“According to the indicators Plateau situation is stable, but moderate acute malnutrition and stunting, which is irreversible is on the rise,” he said.
The chief of field office said urgent steps needed to be taken to avert the situation, insisting that if nothing was done, the future damages would be irredeemable.
“The problem is that if we don’t feed and treat these children properly now, we will not be able to treat them in future because by then the damage must have been done already.
“So, this training is to prevent the damages that may occur, especially in the first 1000 days from the conception of the child,” he added.
Pathak advised pregnant women and lactating mothers to do exclusive breast feeding and proper complementary feeding for their children to secure a healthy future for them.
Declaring the training open, Dr. Livinus Miapkwap, the Executive Secretary of the health care board, said the training was apt.
Miapkwap, who tanked UNICEF for the initiative, said it would enable breastfeeding mothers use rich local food to fight malnutrition in children.
According to him, the exercise would led to the birth of the IYCF support groups at the rural communities.
He also added that the training would be expanded to other local government areas of the state and urged the partcipants to step down knowledge gained to others in their various areas.
The taining had partcipants from Shendam, Jos North and Mangu LGAs.