By Talatu Maiwada
Maternal Adolescent Reproductive Child Health (MARCH) Care Initiative
has stressed the need to build the capacity of healthcare workers and caregivers in achieving optimal nutrition
in maternal and infant feeding.
The President MATCH Initiative, Mrs Lawal Aiyedun-Olubunmi, made the call in Abuja at a three-day training
on Nutrition for Children with Special Needs and Feeding Difficulties, supported by USAID to mark the 2023
World Breastfeeding Week (WBW).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that WBW is commemorated annually from Aug. 1 to Aug. 7 to raise awareness about the importance of
breastfeeding and has “Enabling Breastfeeding; Making a Difference for Working Parents” the theme for 2023.
Aiyedun-Olubunmi said the event was also to educate and sensitise the public about the important role nutrition plays in the life of children under the age of five years.
She said “at MARCH Initiative, we organise workshops for parents, caregivers and health workers, focusing on children with cerebral palsy,
cleft palate and spina bifida, while sharing their burden, pain and challenges.
“We have learned how communication plays significant role in bringing up children with special needs and how the society failed some people.
“Women go to health facilities and still do not get the information and quality care they deserve in a timely manner, thereby resulting to
defects in their children, hence the need to train health workers.
“We want government to partner NGOs and the media to create more awareness on prevention of neuro-defects in children, as prevention is cheaper and better than cure.”
The MARCH Initiative president urged the National Health Insurance Authority (NHIA) to enroll parents of children with special needs
as such would help to reduce the financial burden experienced in caring for the children.
Ms Pauline Adah, the USAID Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition Advisor, said the week was important to push and advocate for optimal breastfeeding of children.
Adah stressed the need for mothers to practice early initiation of breastfeeding and exclusive breastfeeding from birth to six months and continuous breastfeeding
from six months to two years and beyond with complimentary foods.
She said “breastmilk is considered the best ever and nature’s gift to a child, which comes with a lot of advantages for both mother and child.
“USAID is supporting MARCH Initiative to sensitise and advocate for optimal breastfeeding of children with special needs; it is important that we don’t neglect those with challenges.
“We, therefore, advocate more activities that speak to capacity building for care givers to know how to care for children with special needs.”
Dr Dennis Shettima, Chief Consultant Paediatrician, said taking steps to help ensure healthy pregnancy can prevent cerebral palsy, explaining that
“cerebral palsy is damage or abnormal development in the part of the brain that controls movement.”
Shettima decried the attitude of some health personnel while communicating with parents about their children.
He said a bridge in communication and act of negligence from health workers could have severe effect on children, which could lead to defects.
“Some health workers are fond of using medical jargons that does not make sense to parents and they need to break down information to get their cooperation.
“I therefore strongly recommend training and re-training of health workers and sanctions for corrective measures to serve as a deterrent to others that want to follow such part.”
Mrs Rebecca Jacob, a parent, appreciated MARCH Initiative for the opportunity to learn from experts on how to feed nutritious meals to her son with cerebral palsy to aid his development.(NAN)(www.nannews.ng)
Edited by Hadiza Mohammed-Aliyu