The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has inaugurated the Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) support group in Jos North, Mangu and Shendam Local Government Areas of Plateau.
Dr Rajia Sharhan, Nutrition Specialist in the Bauchi Field Office of UNICEF, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Friday in Jos, that the initiative was aimed at addressing malnutrition in the state.
Rajia added that the support group, drawn from various communities within the localities, would champion and deliver key IYCF messages to nursing mothers and caregivers, on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and complementary feeding.
The specialist, who said the rate of malnutrition in Plateau was moderate, insisted that such action needed to be taken to ensure a stable situation.
“Over the years, UNICEF had championed the IYCF practice using support groups to deliver key messages to nursing mothers and other caregivers, including fathers in urban and rural communities on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and its early initiation.
“Breastfeeding has countless benefits for mothers, children and families. It 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 two years and beyond.
“The IYCF support groups are the first line of intervention to prevent malnutrition and support mothers and caregivers on appropriate complementary feeding.
“According to indicators, the situation in Plateau is stable, but stunting and moderate acute malnutrition is on the rise, hence, the need for all hands to be on deck to avert the situation
“This is why we need this support group to sensitise mothers on the right feeding system for their children using the local food at their disposal,”she said.
Rajia called on mothers, fathers, community and religious leaders, policy makers and all critical stakeholders to support the initiative to ensure a better future devoid of malnourished children.
The specialist further explained that the initiative was in collaboration with the Plateau State Primary Health Care Board (PSHPHCB), adding that it would be expanded to other local government areas of the state in due course.
NAN reports that the three LGAs has 45 persons each as members of the support group. (NAN)