From Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe

The government of Gombe State has launched a five-year Food and Nutrition Policy and the State’s Multi-Sectoral Strategic Plan of Action on Food and Nutrition (GMSAFN). According to the government, the new policy aims to improve the nutritional status of all residents in the state especially children.

The GMSAFN is a comprehensive framework that aims to address malnutrition in all its forms. It focuses on nutrition-specific interventions such as improving infant and young child feeding, promoting the use of micronutrient supplements, and treating acute malnutrition. The plan also emphasises nutrition-sensitive interventions such as improving access to clean water and sanitation, increasing agricultural production and productivity, and promoting gender equality.

The Food and Nutrition Policy, which is aligned with the GMSAFN, is a critical component in addressing the problem of malnutrition in Gombe State. It outlines strategies for improving food security, increasing access to nutritious foods, and promoting healthy eating habits.

When implemented, the policy is expected to tackle the root causes of malnutrition, such as poverty, lack of education and awareness of nutrition, and inadequate access to basic health services. It will also strengthen the capacity of institutions responsible for implementing nutrition programs and services. Speaking at the launching of the policy document on Tuesday in Gombe, the state governor, Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya expressed concern over the negative trend of malnutrition in the state as he pledges to provide the necessary resources to ensure effective implementation of this policy to address the challenges.

According to the governor who was represented by his deputy, Dr. Manassah Daniel Jatau stated that “By the launching today, a challenge is thrown to these numerous sectors; health, education, social protection, economic growth, water and sanitation, food system and nutrition to come together and give importance to each of these sectors in line with the System Theory of Society adhering to the Policy as a guide to ensure the attainment of the aims and objectives of the policy”.

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“Whereas the state Government working with development partners such as UNICEF, ANRIN, Taimako Project, Mercy Corps, WHO, MNCH Coalition, HarvestPlus, and CS-SUNN to eradicate malnutrition in the state and much as the state has promptly released counterpart funding for the procurement of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition. Produced a complementary feed for the management of moderately malnourished children across the 11 LGAS and Established Community Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in 6 LGAs of the state, Facility Infant and Young Child Feeding (F-IYCF) that are ongoing in the 11 LGAS,” the governor.

He added that despite various efforts, reports and statistical data have confirmed that the state is still yet to be free from the undesirable phenomena and its adverse effects on the population’s health. He said, “In the face of the above, the implementation of this Food and Nutrition Policy and Multisectoral Plan of Action is a task that must be carried out effectively for the optimal nutritional status of residents of Gombe State, within the time frame of 2023-2027, noting very well that one 2023 is gone already”.

Meanwhile, the Chief of the Bauchi Field Office of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Dr. Tushar Rane, commended the state government for contributing N50 million as a counterpart contribution for the Child Nutrition Fund to address all forms of Malnutrition, particularly Wasting, Anaemia and Stunting in the state.

Dr. Tushar who was represented by Philomena Irene, the Nutrition Specialist UNICEF, Bauchi Field Office, further stated that “Policy we are launching today will guide Gombe State to address the hindrances to food and nutrition security from individual, household, community, local government to state levels. It steers the identification, design, and implementation of intervention activities across relevant sectors.

“The Costed Multisectoral Strategic Plan will promote diets, services, and practices that support optimal nutrition, growth, and development for all children, adolescents, and women. The strategic plan estimates that the interventions across the state would require a public investment of ₦11,169,423,741.16 with an average annual public investment cost estimated of ₦2,035,892,400.00 over the next four years (2023-2027)”.

Also speaking at the launching, the Gombe State Commissioner of Budget and Economic Planning, Alhaji Salihu Baba-Alkali said the costed plan allows the guiding principles and appropriate strategic options for efficient implementation mechanism for nutrition intervention to address malnutrition in the state. He commended the UNICEF Bauchi Field office for supporting the state in the area of the review of Food and Nutrition 2023-2027 and the development of a multi-sectoral plan of Action and engagement of facilitators who guided the process.