The Edo State Commissioner for Health, Dr Samuel Alli, has performed the flag-off ceremony for the first round of Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Week (MNCHW) in Benin City with a passionate plea that mothers should imbibe the culture of providing food with sufficient nutrients to their children, emphasizing breastfeeding to enhance the health and the physical development of young people.
Dr Alli, while stressing the importance of good nutrition for children, said the week-long activities of MNCHW, being the first round of the biannual campaign, is facility-based with a focus on deworming, measurement to assess the nutritional status of children and the administration of Vitamin A Supplementation (VAS), amongst others.
The Health Commissioner assured that the Edo State Government is committed to closing the gap in keeping with the Sustainable Development Goals, saying the State targets sustainable reduction in childhood morbidity and mortality rates arising from nutritional deficiencies. He urged caregivers to take their children to the nearest healthcare centres to receive curative services/interventions.
While commending various stakeholders and partners for their collaborations, Dr Alli appealed to traditional rulers, religious leaders, community leaders, and market women to ensure that eligible mothers and children access VAS, deworming and MUAC measurements, all for free.
Dr Alli revealed that the Edo State Primary Health Care Development Agency (EDSPHCDA), in collaboration with UNICEF, had concluded plans to execute the MNCHW campaigns across the 18 Local Government Areas (LGAs) of the State. He emphasized that the exercise was apt to remedy some deficiencies in key nutrition indicators, as revealed from recent survey statistics for children under the age of five.
In his goodwill message, the Executive Secretary of EDSPHCDA, Dr Omosigho Izedomwen, pledged the commitment of his Agency to collaborate with stakeholders and partners to provide evidence-based technical guidance and practical guidelines to all the 18 LGAs to shape the delivery of comprehensive primary healthcare nutrition interventions that save, promote and protect the lives of women and children in the State.
Dr Izedomwen posited that increasing access, coverage and equity in child nutrition services would improve the various nutrition indicators rated low in recent times in the State. He also urged all relevant stakeholders to facilitate the full participation of women of reproductive age to access PHCs for nutrition commodities.
There were goodwill messages from other stakeholders, including the Chairman Edo State Mobilization Committee on Immunization, Chief Victor Uzamere, the Obadolaye of Benin Kingdom; the representative of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Dr Christiana Ijegede; representative of HOLGA, Oredo LGA, Scott Aigbovia; representative of HOLGA, Ovia North-East LGA, George Odigie; representative of the Edo State Coordinator for World Health Organisation (WHO), Dr Daniel Efemena; amongst others.
The MNCH week is a week-long event organized by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA), State Primary Health Care (PHC) development agencies and the State Ministries of Health (SMOH).
The government is organizing the week to deliver an integrated package of highly cost-effective and curative services/interventions.
Highpoint of the ceremony was the VAS and other nutrition commodities administration by the Commissioner for Health, Dr Alli; the Executive Secretary, EDSPHCDA, Dr Izedomwen, amongst others.