About 1.1 million children in Anambra State have been targeted to receive Vitamin A supplements from the United Nations Children’s Fund, in the next one week.
UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Enugu office, Ngozi Onuorah, revealed this at the flag off of the Anambra State weeklong campaign for maternal and child health programme, held at Umueri in the Anambra East local government area of the state.
The programme was organised by the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, NPHCDA, in collaboration with the state PHCDA, the Ministry of Health, with support from UNICEF, World Health Organisation, among other partners.
Onuorah explained that the weeklong campaign would bring primary healthcare, interventions closer to the people.
“It is a high-impact programme anchored by Vitamin A supplementation and deworming, which are the two given to children annually. Vitamin A alone has the singular potential to prevent all causes of infant deaths by 23-26 per cent.
“It boosts the child’s immune system and prevents a lot of infections, including measles attacks.”
The nutrition specialist noted that there are lots of children with Iron deficiency anaemia in Anambra State, adding that out of 334,838 pregnant women in the state, 170,148, which is about 51 per cent, are anaemic.
According to her, “Vitamin A is meant to target children aged 6-59 months and they are about 1,106,080 in Anambra State. We have given the state a ceiling of 85 per cent to achieve, which is over 998000, but we are hoping to achieve 100 per cent.
“It requires robust sensitization. UNICEF and the government have supported town criers, jingles and many social mobilization activities to ensure that all communities in the state participate effectively. Our expectation is that all children in the state will be covered.”
The UNICEF Chief, Enugu Office, Juliet Chiluwe, described the programme as a significant milestone in the effort to reach all pregnant women and children within the targeted age.
She said, “The turnout is very encouraging and we commend the political will of the state government and the community leaders. The position of UNICEF is that every child should be provided with the proper diet to ensure that the child’s rights are attained.
“UNICEF has been a key figure from the inception of the campaign.
We have been in Anambra for over 12 years and we have been working with Rural Water and Sanitation, State Emergency Management Agency and in the education sector. We are also involved in the area of public health services and our target is to ensure that every child benefits from the programme.”
Anambra State Deputy Governor, Dr. Onyekachukwu Ibezim, who flagged off the programme on behalf of Governor Chukwuma Soludo, said the children need supplements to balance their diets, which he noted, is why the programme is very significant.
He appealed to mothers to always complete all scheduled routine immunization for the benefit of their children and urged the people to support all the health programmes being executed by the state government and the donor agencies.
Dr. Ibezim thanked UNICEF for its support, especially in helping to mitigate the issue of flood in the state.