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Building National Capacity in Nigeria around Infant and Young Child Feeding

Participants of the National Stakeholder Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Materials Review Workshop

Although global trends indicate a gradual decline in rates of stunting, Nigeria’s rates are increasing. Nigeria has an alarming number of stunted children (41% of Nigerian children under five years of age) and one of the highest rates of stunting in the world.  Poor infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices are partly to blame. Despite nearly universal breastfeeding in Nigeria (97% of children are breastfed), early initiation of breastfeeding is only 24.5%; only 13% of children under the age of six months are exclusively breastfed; and only 35% children ages 6-23 months have optimum complementary feeding practices (NDHS 2008).

Earlier this year, SPRING received a sub-award from the USAID Nigeria Mission to focus on reducing stunting in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Benue State. In October, 2012, SPRING hosted a three-day National Stakeholder Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) Materials Review Workshop in Makurdi, the capital of Benue State. The event brought together 35 participants from the Nutrition and HIV Divisions of the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), as well as state nutrition advisors, national-level policy makers, UNICEF, implementing partners working on strengthening nutrition programming and/or the prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) of HIV, and several IYCF master trainers. This workshop was led by the FMOH, but supported by the SPRING Nigeria Program Manager, Babajide Adebisi;  Nutrition Technical Advisor, Beatrice Eluaka; Senior Nutritionist, Karina Lopez; Nutrition Program Officer, Adaeze Oramulu; and Peggy Koniz-Booher, SPRING’s Senior Nutrition and SBCC Advisor. The workshop provided an important opportunity and venue for the participants to review, build consensus, and finalize two training packages and related communication tools:

  • Integrated Infant and Young Child Feeding Counselling: A Training Course (2006) - adapted from WHO/UNICEF curricula for facility-level health workers
  • The Community Infant and Young Child Feeding Counselling Package (2010) - adapted from the UNICEF generic Community IYCF Counseling Package
  • Two integrated sets of 31 counseling cards and corresponding key message booklets - adapted for Nigeria from the UNICEF generic Community IYCF Counselling Package
  • Three take-home brochures for mothers and caretakers: Nutrition during Pregnancy and Breastfeeding, How to Breastfeed Your Baby, and How to Feed a Baby from 6 Months - adapted for Nigeria from the UNICEF generic Community IYCF Counselling Package

These training packages and communication tools (Nigeria IYCF Package) were originally developed and field tested in Nigeria under IYCN, the previous flagship USAID nutrition project, through a collaborative process led by the FMOH. SPRING has been encouraged by the Mission to finalize the materials and build on this effort. Both packages focus on building health worker counseling skills around the promotion of high impact behaviors or essential nutrition actions. The communication materials are currently being translated into 5 major Nigerian languages.

Immediately following the review workshop, a final field test of the facility IYCF package was organized as a training of trainers (TOT) in Kaduna State, in collaboration with and jointly funded by SPRING, Save the Children through the WINNN Project, and UNICEF. SPRING’s Senior Technical Advisor, Mrs. Eluaka, acted as Master Trainer. Other trainers included Celine Njoku and Rosemary Kia from FMOH Nutrition Division, Chinyere Ekwueme from the Federal Capital Territory PHCDB, Aishatu Y. Mohamad from the Kano State MOH, and Jane Gwani from the Kaduna State MOH. Participants included representatives from the State Ministries of Health and partner organizations from Kebbi, Jigawa, Katsina, Yobe, and Zamfara states. A similar final field test and TOT for the community IYCF package is being planned for January 2013.