Gathering Support for Coordinated MIYCN Programs
AN ALIVE & THRIVE SUCCESS STORY
The Alive & Thrive (A&T) initiative, managed by FHI Solutions, was on November 2021 awarded a new 5-year grant (2021 – 2026) to accelerate the scale of maternal, infant and young child nutrition (MIYCN) in Nigeria— as supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The goal is to reduce maternal anemia, low birth weight and low gestational age newborns and also to improve breastfeeding and infant and young child feeding (IYCF) practices linked to child health interventions thus reducing wasting and stunting. This award will, among other things, provide technical assistance to government in seven states (Kano, Kaduna, Bauchi, Borno, Yobe, Sokoto, Lagos) by building the capacity of local community based non-governmental organizations in their implementation intervention at the primary healthcare and community levels. The capacity of relevant government personnel will also be built, implementation systems and structures will be strengthened, and technical support provided for the domestication and implementation of nutrition guidelines and policies. This will be done using an integrated approach within existing maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) services across all levels of implementation in collaboration with the State Primary Health Care Development Agencies/boards (SPHCDA/B).
From February – March 2022, the A&T team carried out high-level advocacy and sensitization visits to the seven project states to formally introduce the new award and discuss modalities for smooth take-off of the project. A&T will work with government and relevant agencies (SPHDA/B) to strengthen the policy and regulatory environment for MIYCN in Nigeria, align their nutrition plans and budgets with national guidelines and the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition, train, mentor, and coach health providers in support of effective interpersonal communication (IPC) on maternal nutrition and IYCF practices; strengthen community-based organizations’ capacity and technical skills to lead the implementation of IPC and community engagement initiatives and strive to improve data management, quality and use for decision making.
One of the approaches adopted by A&T to foster effective collaboration with the SPHCDA/B is to embed project staff in government offices. This aims to improve government coordination, leadership, ownership, and sustainability of project interventions. Consequently, in the five states where this approach is being adopted (Bauchi, Borno, Kano, Sokoto, Yobe), this formed part of the key request to the respective state governments. At the end of each state visit, the government lauded the A&T implementation approach, offered office spaces for project staff, and committed to collaborate with A&T to ensure success of the award, glean lessons for state adoption, and sustain the intervention towards improved state nutrition indices. Additionally, Bauchi state included A&T among the signatories of the its MOU (memorandum of understanding) basket fund. This commitment will allow for strategic coordination and effective co-implementation of the project. It will also promote effective immersion, smooth flow of information and resources, and build greater synergy with other nutrition focused ministries and departments in the states.
A&T saves lives, prevents illness, and improves the health and wellbeing of mothers, children, and adolescents by using evidence-based approaches in collaboration with governments and other partners at the global, regional, national, and community levels. The initiative is managed by FHI Solutions and funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in Nigeria.