Cameroon Infant and Young Child Feeding Strategy Validated (2014 - 2020)
By James Achanyi-Fontem, camlinknewsEmail: firstname.lastname@example.org
A workshop to launch the multi-sectored platform for validation of the road map for reduction of chronic malnutrition in Cameroon was organised from the 18th – 20th August 2014 in Douala. Supported financially by UNICEF, it brought together actors from the ministry of social affairs, public healh, trade, women and family promotion, animal breeding and fisheries, higher education, territorial administration, plan and regional development, HKI, OFSAD, Plan, ACMS, UNICEF, WFP, WHO, UNHCR. UNFPA and FAO.
The deliberations were coordinated by the Director for Health Promotion, Dr. Cheumaga Bernard who was assisted by Okala Georges, Sud Director for food and nutrition. Within four days, the participants in four groups discussed the national strategic plan for Infant and Young Child Feeding covering the period 2014 – 2020.
Issued treated were related to feeding of the young girl, pregnant woman and lactating mother, early initiation of breastfeeding from the first hour after birth for the first six months with the necessity to give colostrum to the baby and optimal breastfeeding up to 24 months and beyond. Complimentary feeding and the fortification of foods took greater space as a means to reduce malnutrition as well as breastfeeding In difficult and exceptional situations of emergency, poverty, malnutrition, HIV and child illnesses.
On communication, it was emphasized that there has to be a lot of advocacy for social change and social mobilisation of communities for behaviour change communication. The Innocenti Declaration and BABY Friendy Hospital Initiative associated to Community Baby Friendly Initiative were used as tools to illustrate operational objectives.
As far as the application of priority measures was concerned, it turned out that five reports had to be established covering protection of breastfeeding, encouragement, support to health systems and within the communities without forgetting one on infant and yound child feeding support in difficult and exceptional situations.
The different partners had to establish their contributions and obligations for the achievement of the planned goals with the involvement of government, interested parties, professional health associations, non-governmental organisations, enterprises, social partners and international organisations.
It was observed that infant mortality of children below 5 has not evolved in Cameroon since 1991. The studies carried out show that bad feeding practices of infants are at the origin of 29% of deaths of children below 5 years, while chronic malnutrition is very high. The number of malnourished children is on the increase during to babies born by seropositive mothers.
This reduces the intellectual output and productive performance of the population affected. For this reason, the formulation of a pertinent strategy for infant and young child feeding would necessary to reverse the situation in Cameroon, especially in a situation confronted by recurring diarrhoea diseases, yellow fever, malaria, respiratory channel infections covering 20 to 70 % of the cases notified and attributed to malnutrition. This worsens the already discouraging poverty margin of the population.
The current infant and young child feeding strategy has been put in place within the following guidelines;
• Identification of pertinent and realistic interventions which have worked well elsehere.
• Insistence on mother and family support to permit them play a crucial role in the good development of their children.
• It defines the obligations and responsibilities of the government, national and international organisations and other parties.
• Identification of priority axes at the different levels of intervention.
• Identification of key actors
• Definition of strategies to be put in place to achieve the objectives of infant anf young child feeding.
James Achanyi-Fontem, is a Senior Health Journalist and Communication Consultant. He worked as a health journalist and broadcaster for 30 years with Radio Cameroon and later Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV before retiring in 2005 to engage fully with Cameroon Link (Human Assistance Programme). Cameroon Link is a registered charity, not-for-profit organisation involved in the promotion of community health, humanitarian assistance, promotion of women and child rights through involvement of communities in Cameroon for mother and child health care. Cameroon Link is a partner to Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Farm Radio International (FRI), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN Africa), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). As the intermediary of Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Cameroon Link is engaged to implement a Cameroon Rural Radio story design Programming through an investigative research, which aims to discover through interviewing beneficiaries of health programmes on their interests, documenting and disseminating new ideas about how radio stations produce and air Healthy Communities Radio Programs in Cameroon.