Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health will launch a major mass communication campaign to increase awareness of the importance of exclusive breastfeeding for infants in their first 6 months in May by an array of partners, including Alive & Thrive (A&T).
The “Start Strong/Zero Water” campaign focuses on increasing early initiation of breastfeeding (within 1 hour of birth) and exclusive breastfeeding for 6 months, and particularly the elimination of water during this period. The national campaign will also advocate for greater enforcement of the International Code of Marketing of Breastmilk Substitutes (the Code) and other ways to improve the enabling environment for breastfeeding. After conferring with the IYCF SBCC working group including national partners from USAID, Action Contre la Faim, Helen Keller International, Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, and key departments of the government, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health decided to adapt the “Start Strong” branding for national level efforts to promote infant and young child feeding (IYCF). “Start Strong” was identified during the development of A&T’s IYCF mass media campaign in Lagos and Kaduna states. The national “Zero Water” campaign supported by a consortium of partners led by UNICEF will be renamed “Start Strong/Zero Water.”
Leaders of several organizations working on nutrition in West Africa, including Alive & Thrive (A&T), called on presidents and other high-level government officials to make addressing malnutrition a priority across the region at a high-level advocacy event in Dakar on March 22.
The initiative’s regional program director, Dr. Aboubacry Thiam, moderated and chaired the roundtable, which involved about 50 participants, in collaboration with UNICEF and the SUN civil society movement. The roundtable was extensively reported in Senegal’s national media, including this TV news report, which was featured on the international network, Africable. Participants used data to emphasize the importance of nutrition to the region’s socio-economic development and raised awareness of initiatives aimed at increasing synergy of action for sustainable and coordinated investments and programs in support of nutrition. Key partners, including UNICEF, ALN/AfDB, SUN movement, Parliamentarians representative, and the West African Women’s Association (AFAO), participated. They agreed to establish a multi-sectoral group to better monitor various recommendations, including 1) strengthening synergy, 2) broadening partnerships for nutrition funding; and, 3) strengthening synergy through a network of learning and multisectoral platform for combating malnutrition.
Ethiopia has formally launched the country’s first Food and Nutrition Policy with the support of multiple partners, including Alive & Thrive (A&T).
More than 400 participants attended the launch including three State Ministers (Health, Agriculture, and Women, Children & Youth Affairs), heads and representatives of donors and UN agencies, representatives from federal ministries and regional bureaus of all NNP implementing sectors, professional associations, ECSC-SUN coalition partner organizations, academic and research institutions and representatives of the private sector.
In an opening address, Dr. Lia Tadesse, the State Minister of Health, acknowledged the support of individuals and organizations for the launch and highlighted efforts that have been made to improve food and nutrition security in the country. She also said the Policy will ensure allocation of adequate budget from the government’s treasury, increase accountability and responsibility of actors, and help establish the Food and Nutrition Council for improved political commitment. A&T Senior MIYCN Advisor Birara Melese, who is embedded at the Federal Ministry of Health, presented the Food and Nutrition Landscape of Ethiopia. Prior to the launch, A&T held a workshop for journalists to familiarize them with the nutrition policy and its implications for MIYCN.