From Femi Oyelola Kaduna
Stakeholders in the nutrition sector have called on the Kaduna,Nassarawa and Niger State governments to recruit and deploy trained nutritionists to Primary Health Centers, PHCs, as well as retraining of existing nutritionists for optimal performance.
They made the call in a communiqué issued after a 2-day meeting organized by the CS-SUNN in collaboration with Alive and Thrive and Save the Children on improved nutrition investments in the 2020 state annual budgets with key stakeholders from Kaduna, Nasarawa and Niger States
The communiqué signed by a 10-man committee chaired by Member, Nasarawa State House of Assembly, Hon. Aliyu Dogara Mohammed, observed a substantial increase in budgetary allocation by Kaduna, Nasarawa and Niger States in the 2019 and 2020 budgets for nutrition but emphasized releases and cash backing as key challenges.
It noted the non-alignment of planning and budgeting for health and nutrition programmes in these states with the state’s nutrition plans and coverage data on key nutrition interventions.
According to the communiqué, key policy and decision-makers at the legislative and executive levels are not fully carried along in the planning, budgeting and implementation of health and nutrition programmes in the states.
It further identified absence of trained nutritionists in some states at the PHC level as well as delay in preparation and submission of activity request memos for planned health and nutrition activities across relevant Ministries, Departments and Agencies, MDAs.
The meeting rated budgetary performance for nutrition activities across the three states as low or just average and settled for a benchmark of at least 75 percent budgetary performance by the states going forward.
The communiqué made the following recommendations: Matching budgetary increment for nutrition with timely releases and cash backings. Advocating for quarterly releases of funds to carry out nutrition activities in the states.
“ States’ plans and activities be based on the state multi-sectoral plan on nutrition and on evidence including ensuring budget realism in annual sector budgets at the state and LGA levels
“Tracking of key nutrition indicators to inform programme planning strategic decision making
“Continuous advocacy and engagement of the executives and legislators to secure their buy-in for improved budget allocation and appropriation for nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive activities in the three states.
“ Recruitment and deployment of trained nutritionists to PHCs as well as retraining of existing nutritionists for optimal performance
“ Intensified efforts by Committees of the State Assemblies that oversee nutrition line Ministries in their oversight functions by ensuring strict implementation of approved budgets for nutritional activities.
“Funds for women empowerment programmes should focus more on preventive initiatives to address malnutrition.
“ Focus should be placed on promoting and implementation of the multi-sector strategy to provide a platform for holistic delivery of nutrition specific and sensitive interventions in all states.”
The meeting had participants drawn from three PINNS focal states of Kaduna, Nasarawa and Niger, comprising of chairmen and members of the House committees on health, finance & appropriation, Permanent Secretaries, state Accountant Generals, relevant directors of the key line Ministries of Finance, Budget & Planning, Health and Agriculture as well as state nutrition officers and partners from Alive and Thrive as well as Save the Children.