Sep 13, 2012, 9:51 AM
The National Nutrition Agency (NaNA) under the Office of the Vice President, in collaboration with partners, recently validated the Nutrition Communication Strategy document at Mansakonko in the Lower River Region.
The participants thoroughly reviewed the document seeking to produce a good document as far as nutritional issues are concerned.
The two-day validation, held at the School of Community Health Nursing in Mansakonko, is supported by the World Bank’s Rapid Response Nutrition Security Improvement project.
The Nutrition Communication Strategy 2012-2015 is developed through a participatory and consultative process involving all the stakeholders.
According to officials, it seeks to support the vision, mission and goal of the National Nutrition Policy 2010-2020.
In opening the two-day validation on the Nutrition Communication Strategy, Dr Adama Demba, director of Health Services, underscored the importance of timely, accurate and correct information as far as the communication strategy is concerned.
“As WHO defines health as a complete state of physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of diseases or infirmity, this is telling us that health is multifaceted,” she noted.
She disclosed that a lot of health issues are coming up, in particular the NCDs, which is the tune of the world now.
“We don’t watch what we eat and don’t do proper physical exercises,” she said. “The Ministry of Health will do all it can to see to it that the programmes are implemented because NaNA’s success means that the Ministry of Health has succeeded,” says the health services director”.
He also called on the representatives of the divisional health teams to take the lead and ensure that what transpired during the validation is disseminated effectively to their respective units and work as one family, collaborate and support each other to have a single direction as far as health is concerned.
Malang Fofana, deputy director of NaNA who spoke on behalf of the NaNA director, said nutrition is a critical issue that can influence other sectors and it is therefore important to put strategies in place to address the nutritional issues of the people.
The agency had achieved a lot in the past in terms of nutrition, he said, adding that in the recent past they have seen some critical indicators of nutrition that are supposed to decrease but are instead increasing.
“Those indicators,” he said, “are stunting, underweight, chronic malnutrition and are critical, they felt there is need to strengthen the nutritional communication effectively to the general public but there was no strategic plan to communicate and share with the public.”
Mr Fofana added that with support from the World Bank they are able to prepare the strategic document for experts to come up with a final one to better communicate the nutritional issues of the country.
The final document, he said, will be used to communicate nutritional issues to the public and it will be a document for The Gambia and beyond because they believe in sharing.
In The Gambia, he said there are some challenges on inadequate knowledge on the causes and consequences of key critical nutritional issues and this strategic document is aimed at addressing some of those critical issues through various interventions and strategies to change people’s behaviour.
“That is why,” Fofana continued, “this document is really going to help the agency towards that direction and expressed appreciation about the level of commitment shown by stakeholders.”
Speaking earlier, the Principal Public Health Nurse, Baba Galleh Jallow, urged participants to do justice to the paper being validated so that it can benefit all sectors of health.
Abdou Aziz Ceesay, Information Education and Communication officer, chaired the occasion and said the agency aims to address the nutritional issues of the country.
He also called on all to work towards the achievement of NaNA’s goals.