Lagos State has launched a comprehensive nutrition programme to tackle cognitive and learning disabilities in newborns. Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, on Wednesday, rolled out the Mother, Infant and Child (M.I.C.H.) Initiative to address nutritional needs of pregnant women across the 57 Local Government Areas (LGAs) and Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs).
The scheme aims to raise the level of care for expectant mothers in underserved communities throughout their pregnancy periods. It is also to support development of infants’ brains from foetus to neonatal stage, especially in the first 2,000 days said to be significant in a child’s formative stage.
The health initiative is a key component of the Womb To School Programme – a basket of social investments initiated by the Sanwo-Olu administration to facilitate human capital development and to raise socially responsible citizens from the womb through infancy, childhood, and into adulthood.
Deputy Governor, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat, Head of Service, Mr. Hakeem Muri-Okunola, First Lady, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu and, Deputy Governor’s wife, Mrs. Oluremi Hamzat, attended the event held at the Government Secretariat in Alausa.
Office of the Civic Engagement coordinates the M.I.C.H. project.
Before the initiative was fully launched, the pilot phase was rolled out in 11 councils, with the State Government providing nutritional foods and supplements for 3,000 indigent pregnant women.
Sanwo-Olu said the Government realised the roles of women in the socio-economic development of the State, thereby taking the proactive step to improve maternal and child condition. The programme, he added, would also protect the rights of our women and children.
He said: “The M.I.C.H. Initiative that is being launched today is not just an integral part of our plan to improve maternal and child condition, but it also speaks of our desire to protect the wellbeing and rights of our women and children in Lagos. We will be reaching out to indigent pregnant women and cater for their care during the period of their pregnancy in order to ensure safe delivery, healthy mother and child.
“Our target is to reach 5,000 underprivileged pregnant women who will be selected by doctors and specialists in each primary healthcare centre across the State to access the M.I.C.H food packs that contain recommended daily nutritional composition of protein, carbohydrate, lactose, milk fat, fibre, calcium, folic acid and multi-vitamins.”
To access the programme, Sanwo-Olu said selected beneficiaries would be issued approved M.I.C.H. Collection Cards individually for the Government to monitor the distribution of nutrient-filled supplements on a weekly basis.
The Governor said the initiative would take off in flagship health centres in areas that include Ikeja, Badagry, Epe, Ikorodu, Agege, Lagos-Island, Eti-Osa, Alimosho, Somolu, Kosofe and Ibeju.
The benefitting pregnant women, he added, would also receive quality care and follow-up through home visits by a dedicated team of public and state-approved private community health workers and medical consultants.
Aside the State Government’s investment in fully-equipped Maternal and Child Centres (MCCs) in the last two years, Sanwo-Olu said the MICH Initiative was conceived to protect infants from preventable impairment in neurological and physical development.
“We are convinced that there is no better time than now to leverage advanced technology, modern equipment and well-trained health staff to put an end to preventable maternal mortality and disabilities in infants. The process of bringing life into existence should no longer lead to the loss of another life; this is why we are initiating policies and investing in the Mother and Child Sector to ensure that we drastically reduce and eliminate maternal mortality in Lagos,” the Governor said.
Special Adviser to the Governor on Civic Engagement, Princess Aderemi Adebowale, explained that the beneficiaries would go through four stages of care, stressing that expectant mothers would have access to weekly supply of balanced diet.
She said: “Our objective is to ensure that the programme continues to provide free care and supplement packs for underprivileged pregnant women throughout pregnancy. This would prevent malnutrition and save the foetus from deficiencies that cause stunted growth.”
Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, said nutritious diets remained essential supplements required by an expectant mother during pregnancy, stressing that a nutrient deficient infant would go through irregular brain development. This, he said, may limit the child’s ability in adulthood.
Sanwo-Olu launched the M.I.C.H. Initiative in a swarm of nursing mothers who benefitted from the pilot phase of the programme.