Training Community Health Ambassadors to combat malnutrition

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The HealthZone Wellness Initiative, the NGO arm of The HealthZone television program in a continuing partnership with the Isa Wali Empowerment Initiative (IWEI), a Kano-based NGO, is developing sustainable solutions to the problem of malnutrition in women and children in Northern Nigeria.

Malnutrition is a significant contributor to the maternal and infant mortality rate in Nigeria. According to the United Nations, about 2.4 million children and 30-50% of pregnant women are malnourished. Up to 45% of deaths of children under 5 years old is directly or indirectly due to malnutrition.

The HealthZone and IWEI Malnutrition screening in November 2017 in Garun Mallam and Rano LGAs in Kano State shows that a staggering 63% of the children are stunted, and 37.8% are acutely malnourished. Stunting is the most reliable evidence of chronic malnutrition in the critical first 1000 days of a child’s life, the time from conception to a child’s second birthday.

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Our 2018 Initiative is in response to this shocking data we collected in November 2017 reflecting the extent of malnutrition in the two communities. The goal is to build capacity for healthy nutrition practices for women and their children in the communities by training Community Health Ambassadors (CHAs) in the two LGAs.

The intervention will promote child health growth and combat malnutrition in the critical 1000 days. Every year, poor nutrition during this crucial time causes the death or disability of millions of children in Sub-Saharan Africa.

From May 2 – 4, 2018 we trained twenty selected women in the skills necessary to measure and interpret child nutritional status accurately and to give appropriate nutrition counselling to their mothers and pregnant women. We provided the trained women with materials, tools, and support for ongoing child growth assessment and nutritional counselling within their communities.

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The newly trained Community Health Ambassadors built valuable field experience by working alongside us on May 4, 2018, to conduct malnutrition screening of 250 children age 6 months – 59 months in Rano LGA. The children also received Vitamin A micronutrient and deworming medication.

The newly trained CHAs will assess the nutritional status of community children on a weekly basis to screen for severe and moderate acute malnutrition. The nutrition counseling they give mothers will improve nutrition practices in their communities.

We will provide 6 months of treatment with supplemental fortified foods for children with malnutrition identified through the screening and monitor them for one year. Nurture All Foods are generously donating the fortified food supplements.

The sobering statistics on malnutrition, the massive turn out and enthusiastic reception of the Malnutrition screening by the local women underscores the dire need for nutrition intervention in the region.

 

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