By Ndidichukwu Odoh
Vitamin Angels, a global charity which distributes Vitamin A and de-worming treatments to children under five globally and in Nigeria, is advocating for improved government will to strengthen Primary Health Care.
Its partners in Nigeria met on Thursday and agreed that Nigeria must increase efforts to reduce micronutrient deficiency among children and mothers if there are efficient and functional primary health system.
The charity says reducing micronutrient deficiency would reduce the country’s burden of “hidden hunger” which contributes to poor health outcomes in Nigeria.
In Nigeria, States like Sokoto and Bauchi were supported to reduce micronutrient deficiency in the last five years, the Charity has expanded to cover Akwa Ibom, and Rivers States.
“We plan to observe what the needs are and through this partners meeting we can decide on how best to support” said Amos Bassey a professor of community Medicine at Bingham University, Abuja.
“There is so much to be done. We have to sensitize, and collaborate with all levels of government to ensure that no woman or child is left behind, in Nigeria micronutrient deficiency cases are enormous, we will begin by strengthening our Primary Health Care, and make sure they are efficient to provide the services needed” said Dr. Francis Ohanyido, Coordinator of Vitamin Angels in Nigeria.
Vitamin Angels has focused primarily on distributing vitamin A and deworming treatments to at risk children under five globally including Nigeria in response to the tremendous evidence supporting the benefits of those interventions.
“our efforts to distribute prenatal vitamins to pregnant and breast feeding mothers in areas where malnutrition is prevalent have expanded in recent years, as a way to better address the entire critical window of opportunity in a child’s development from conception through age two. In order to continue to successfully expand their prenatal program over the coming years, it is during the window period that a child’s brain develops, so if there is any deficiency, the child will be affected” said Ohanyido
Vitamin Angels’ unique distribution model recognizes that addressing the myriad needs of populations at risk for or suffering from malnutrition requires a comprehensive approach that goes beyond supplementation.
The organization partners with nonprofits around the globe who are established in underserved communities and can efficiently add vitamins to their existing health and nutrition services.
To ensure a lasting benefit, Vitamin Angels provides technical assistance to its field partners to support introduction of its supplementation interventions and supporting materials to promote good maternal nutrition, breastfeeding, and promotion of exclusive breastfeeding.