Aug 12, 2015, 11:56 AM
“Health and nutrition are so cross-cutting that every other sector operational has an impact on what we are doing in the field of health and nutrition, thus having huge impact on the overall socio-economic development of any nation.”
These remarks were made by the Executive Director of the National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) Mr Modou Cheyassin Phall during an eight-day working session on the implementation support for the Maternal and Child Nutrition and Health Result Project planned to conduct a working session on the development of the social behaviour change communication (SBCC) strategy for health and nutrition, held recently at Bwiam village in the West Coast Region.
It was organised by NaNA and the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare (MOHSW) while the process was led by an international consultant, Madame Diarra Kamara Racine.
Phall reminded participants that the work is a continuous process of what was stated back in December.
He urged them to address issues of maternal child and nutrition health resources with various components, actors, players and stakeholders.
He said projects are about people and could not be implemented by any single entity but need multiple stakeholder approaches of which people could take ownership.
“This is all about SBCC, which can have an effect on a lot of behavioral change so as to deliver the required services to the people,” he said.
“Coming up with a strategy on social behavioural change is important,” he added, saying it is also necessary to know how to make it operational as well as to ensure the strategy is implemented.
“We will be able to come up with a robust strategic plan right across the board to address issues of major stumbling blocks, be it structural, operational or socio-economic,” Mr Phall disclosed.
“Attitudes of not only clients but also of service providers must change to make sure their behavior changes towards better service delivery to the people.”
In this exercise, SBCC has a mighty role to play, he said, adding that they at NaNA appreciate and “are investing and making sure that at the end, it will produce a valid document with the best strategies which will be operationalized and implemented.”
In his remarks on the occasion, Director of Health Promotion and Education Modou Njai pointed out the need to develop a strategy to address the gaps which started last December, saying they would continue to map out gaps to address SBCC.
“At the end of the day, a well focused plan will be implemented where challenges and gaps are addressed. It will be a well prepared strategy that can be implemented at both country and village level and as well be saleable to other countries after the draft report is finalized,” Mr Njai asserted.
Lead Consultant Madame Diarra Kamara Racine hailed the group’s commitment and team work.
She said: “We at the World Bank have high commitment with regard to issues to be dealt with during workshops which are addressed by participants forming various group sessions.”
She called for the involvement of all relevant stakeholders such as the health ministry, health promotion directorate, reproductive and child health, the NCD unit and other the task forces.
Madame Kamara Racine expressed confidence that “the final document will be improved on.”
NaNA Deputy Director Malang Fofana said they are trying to address many health and nutrition indicators, most of which are either stagnating or regressing.
That would help to achieve three important MDGs relevant to NaNA and the health ministry.
“MDGs 1c, 4 and 5 are cross cutting to institutions because their mandates and core functions are geared towards addressing those three MDGs. This project is working to address those MDGs and the need to change behaviors,” Mr Fofana pointed out.
“To address the issues surrounding these MDGs and to better address those challenges, there must be an appropriate relevant strategy and effective plan.”
He urged participants to ensure that a tangible document is produced to help address the issues surrounding the above MDGs.
“It is now time to analyze critically and come with objectives and strategies that can be used to address all the challenges and issues affecting us. We cannot afford to fail in SBCC because it is here to help improve on behaviors that can help change people in a professional manner that suits our culture and ways. Gambians must therefore follow all the procedures so as to come up with a document that justice is done with,” Fofana told participants.
He called on participants to ensure that a quality, standard and clean draft is presented for guidance in the right direction.
Also speaking, IEC Manager Abdou Aziz Ceesay said the strategy is out to serve as a guiding tool in improving people’s behaviour and adopting some of the key family planning practices that they are being adopted for the implementation of the project.
He said they want to increase the utilization of the maternal child health services in The Gambia to at least build behaviour in people so they would continue to utilize the services.
The services, he added, include early booking within the first trimester, the use of contraceptives (which is at a low 9% percent), and a host of other service areas they are trying to promote in the country.
“This project is very important because it is unique as the approach is a resource-based financing instead of input-based,” Mr Ceesay said.
“The project is looking at indicators at sanitary level, establishing hand washing facilities at community level and the importance of exclusive breastfeeding to improve the health status of communities.”
It would be recalled that as part of the development process of the SBCC strategy, the IEC taskforce members gathered at the Sanyang camp to review materials related to communication in terms of nutrition and health. Some of the issues were deemed fit and identified.
Members again gathered in Bwiam recently for the second stage of the development of the strategy with a lead consultant.