Linda Ayade Calls For Continued Prioritization Of Nutrition In Cross River State

By Margaret Asikong MOI Officer 

Wife of Cross River State Governor, Dr. (Mrs.) Linda Ayade has called on all Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), as well as partners to come together and increase awareness geared towards the prioritization of nutrition, while fostering collaborations that will mobilize resources to help tackle malnutrition in the state.

Dr. Ayade made the call recently at the Diamond Ball Room, Transcorp Hotel, Calabar during a one day high level engagement meeting and policy dialogue with key stake holders on investment in maternal, infant, young child and adolescent nutrition in Cross River State, which was organized by United Nation International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF), in collaboration with CRS Planning Commission and State Committee on Food and Nutrition.

Dr. Ayade who was represented by the Vice Chairman, Bakassi LGA and President of Cross River Women Emancipation Initiative (CROWEI), Eti-Eka (Mrs) Lawrencia Ita, said that the theme for the event which is Harnessing optimal Developmental Potentials of Cross River Children and adolescents through investment in Maternal, Infant, Young Child and Adolescent Nutrition, is very apt as people all over the world are suffering from various forms of malnutrition such as; life-threatening hunger, micronutrient deficiencies, low calories intake and obesity, with over 45% of under-five mortality as a result of malnutrition.

She stated that another measure of chronic malnutrition which is of huge concern in the state is stunting, adding that 1 out of every 5 (189,160) children under five years in CRS is stunted (shorter than the expected height for their age), while only 24% initiate breastfeeding within one hour of birth.
She maintained that the urgency for nutrition improvement is a necessity for sustainable development and that it is pertinent for states to promote, as well as sustain investments that will address the drivers of malnutrition, especially inappropriate feeding practices, poor stewardship and policy implementation.

She further stated that the state has over the years employed measures to address issues of malnutrition, food insecurity and poverty such as; the inauguration of the State Council of Nutrition (SCN), which is in line with National Policy on Food and Nutrition; implementation of high impact interventions and programmes like; maternal newborn and child week, breast feeding week, agricultural/food programme, women empowerment and other nutrition focused programmes across the state, as well as ensuring free health care services to pregnant women and children under five through the Ayade care scheme, amongst others.

Dr. Ayade opined that through the office of the wife of the Governor and SCN, they are committed to promote the public private partnership in nutrition which will galvanize resources to empower women, improve nutrition, amongst others.
She used the occasion to express thanks to UNICEF, State House of Assembly, SCN, Ministries and Agencies for their support in improving nutrition in the state.

In his welcome remarks, the SPC Chief Economic Adviser to the Governor on Economic Planning and Vice Chairman Dr. Francis Ntamu expressed appreciation to all present especially the speaker, CRSHA, RT Hon. Eteng Williams, House Committee Chairman, Executive members, key stakeholders, Unicef and other partners for finding time to be part of the event and for all their support . According to him, the focus of the State Government is on human capital development and is glad that the gathering will give them the opportunity to review necessary procedures, actions and strategies ranging from polices that can activate result with specific regard to maternal, infant and young children as it relates to nutrition, amongst others.

In her remarks, the Chief of Field Office, UNICEF, Enugu, Mrs. Juliet Chiluwe-Chilemba used the occasion to thank all the participants present as well as the state government for the effective collaboration with UNICEF in organizing the meeting, which according to her, reflects the commitment of the state government and partners to ensuring that the maternal and nutrition health of mothers/children in CRS is achieved, adding that UNICEF is committed to partnering with CRS, as well as other relevant partners and stakeholders in achieving the global development agenda.

Also speaking, the Special Adviser to the Governor on Women Affairs, Surv. Dr. Gertrude Nnanjar Njar, thanked UNICEF for their unrelenting and continuous multi-sectorial technical and financial support over time, especially as it concerns children and other vulnerable groups in CRS, while also expressing thanks to other donor partners and stakeholders for their support and good works towards attaining sustainable development and growth, adding that the importance of nutrition for all categories of persons cannot be over emphasized especially for infants and young children.

In the same vein, the Director-General, CRS Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Janet Ekpenyong, said that they will continue to do their best to ensure that children have access to micro nutrients that will help them come out of malnutrition and that integration of nutrition is their watchword in all their programmes, for they will continue to strongly advocate for investment in maternal, infant, young child and adolescent nutrition amongst others.

Highlights at the event included; goodwill messages from the Speaker, CRSHA, representative of the Chief Judge of CRS, members of the State Executive Council and Partners, panel discussion/policy dialogue, group photographs, amongst others.


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