The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it is supporting Kaduna State Government to integrate HIV services with nutrition programmes for improved outcome.
Mrs Chinwe Ezeife, Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna, made this known in Kaduna on Saturday, at a five-day training for 60 healthcare workers, organised in collaboration with the state’s Primary Health Care Development Agency (PHCDA).
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the training was on integration of paediatric HIV counselling and testing with Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programme.
According to Ezeife, via a teleconference, HIV and malnutrition interact in complex ways that heighten vulnerability and worsen severity of each condition in a child.
She explained that HIV infection in a malnourished child reduce the chances of the child’s survival if quick interventions were not carried out.
This according to her, necessitates the need for proper integration of HIV services into the treatment of malnourished children and their caregivers for improved outcome.
“UNICEF and the state PHCDA have sensitised relevant stakeholders on the relationships between HIV and malnutrition, and improved coordination and integration of HIV and nutrition services at Local Government Areas (LGAs) and facility levels.
“Malnutrition, like HIV is a known cause of reduced immunity in individuals, which serves as a window for manifestation of various infections.
“This is particularly worse in infants and young children whose body immune cells are yet to gain full maturity, prompting the need to integrate HIV testing into nutrition programme,” she said.
She pointed out that CMAM is being implemented in 14 LGAs of the state, while treatment of children with severe acute malnutrition was ongoing in 77 health facilities in the councils.
She, however, said that available data showed that non-recovery rates among severe and acute malnourished children in the CMAM sites fluctuates between 1.2 per cent and 4.0 per cent.
“This training was triggered by this poor non-recovery rate and to ensure that every child living with HIV is diagnosed early and placed on treatment to avert complications of untreated HIV and attendant mortality.
“The training is aimed at equipping health workers with skills, knowledge and practice to provide HIV testing services to severely malnourished children with high index of suspicion of HIV infection.
“Particularly malnourished children that have stayed in CMAM programme for over four weeks and failed to gain significant weight,” she said.
The State Nutrition Officer, Mrs Ramatu Musa, said that the training was the third capacity building conducted for health workers around convergence of services in health facilities in recent time.
Musa said that a total of 64 health workers were trained in the first and second sessions to ensure the integration of services like immunisation, nutrition and child spacing for mothers, among others.
“This training of additional 60 health workers will strongly strengthen the synergy of HIV services and nutrition programme and provide a holistic approach to management of child malnutrition,” she said.
She thanked UNICEF for the technical support to ensure successful implementation of health and nutrition programmes designed to improve indicators of CMAM intervention.
NAN reports that the training was conducted with strict compliance to social distancing and other preventive measures of COVID-19. (NAN)