Helping infants in Nigeria “Start Strong for a Better Future”

January 2, 2019

Malnutrition accounts for more than 50 percent of under-five deaths in Nigeria. Since 2015, Alive & Thrive (A&T) has been working with the Government of Nigeria (GoN) and partners on policy advocacy, social behavior change (SBC), and strategic use of data for maternal, infant, and young child nutrition (MIYCN). To further improvements in the health and well-being of Nigeria’s children, A&T, the GoN, and communication partner McCann, launched an infant and young child feeding (IYCF) multimedia campaign in Kaduna and Lagos States.

The campaign features traditional media spots, posters, pamphlets, messages shared through social media influencers, and targeted outreach materials such as sermon guides for religious leaders. Campaign themes focus on the importance of early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding, and dietary diversity.

The launch event in Kaduna State, held in November, featured remarks by her Excellency, wife of the Governor of Kaduna state, Aisha Ummi Garba El-Rufai, who emphasized that the campaign “Start Strong” is about giving every young child a chance for a better future and quality of life. The Kaduna State Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Paul Dogo, said the campaign is a crucial step towards ensuring uninterrupted healthy growth and development of children in Kaduna. Decorated vehicles paraded through the Kaduna capital sharing pamphlets and other print materials to celebrate the start of the campaign.

In early December a similar launch event was held in Lagos State by the State Commissioner of Health Dr Jide Idris. With support from the Primary Health Care Development Agency and the State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan, A&T shared its series of multimedia materials with partners and media outlets attending the launch. Lagos government agencies and partners are embarking on this campaign to address the unsatisfactory status of recommended IYCF practices in the state and the increasing incidence of malnutrition-related infant mortality.

The general campaign activities will run in both States through 2020. As part of its overall efforts in supporting the GoN in implementing its National Social Behavior Change Communication (SBCC) Strategy for IYCF, A&T is not only working in Kaduna and Lagos States, but is expanding the application of IYCF SBCC into 12 additional states.