UNICEF Nutrition Chief Visits The J & A Oben Foundation

Monday - June 01st, 2021 / Posted by Ms Victorine Neba

The Nutrition Chief of UNICEF Cameroon Marc Donald Nene, has visited J&A Oben Foundation for the first time, since he assumed office in March 2021. This visit which took place on Tuesday June 1st was a courtesy response to an invitation from the J&A Oben Foundation. The visit also doubled as an occasion for J&A Oben Foundation to brief Marc Donald on the Foundation’s funded project by UNICEF Cameroon through the SUN Movement.

In a presentation to brief Marc Donald and his UNICEF delegation, Dr Harouna Difo, a research Associate of J&A Oben Foundation highlighted that the foundation is the only organization in Cameroon to have put in place a Nutrition Incubator. “Nutritional issues in Cameroon are mistreated because they are not highlighted. So, it is our goal to Increase nutrition visibility to end malnutrition in Cameroon” Dr. Harouna said.

“The nutrition incubator of the J&A Oben Foundation is also the only structure in Cameroon to be working on Information Gathering & Research on nutrition”, Dr. Harouna added.

The Nutrition Incubator: Phase I Mandate

In his presentation, Dr. Harouna also underscored the major strides of the Nutrition incubator projects sponsored by UNICEF, through the sun Movement. “Through Capacity Building on the nutrition incubator platform, we have successfully trained journalist on nutrition advocacy”, he asserted. “We have also recruited and trained associate researchers so as to maximize nutrition research in the best way we can”. Still under capacity building, Dr. Harouna pointed out that, a webinar for capacity building of mayors on nutrition dashboard was also organized by the incubator depart of the J&A Oben Foundation through UNICEF funding.

“The Nutrition incubator, has also successful carried out the Evidence Generation and Research project as mandated by UNICEF”, he added. “Through this project, we developed research briefs; developed modules and factsheets for local governance on Nutrition; we developed, Designed and Printed Advocacy Kit. We also Produced District & Council Profiles, Nutrition Fact sheets and setting up of Social media Portal” Dr. Harouna Mentioned.

“We also Support Ambassadorial events and Parliamentary groups on Nutrition governance on Advocacy and Communication via Nutrition Ambassadors” he added.

“UNICEF mandate to the Nutrition Incubator, also required the department to work on Knowledge Management and Documentation, through which we successfully developed a database of Research Nutrition Briefs”, he mentioned.

“On partnerships and coordination for sustainability via development of Pool of researchers in Nutrition and dietetics, we gave Technical Assistance to the training institute of Dietetics. We also maintained the electronic database on nutrition and dietetics”, Dr. Harouna stated.

The Nutrition Incubator: Prospective Phase II Activities

Dr. Harouna highlighted three major activities among many to be done if UNICEF funding is extended. “We are looking forward to train 30 focal points for nutrition clubs in primary and secondary schools to indirectly sensitize care givers on infant nutrition for a better future”, he said. The Nutrition Incubator of the JnA Oben Foundation, also plan on reinforcing education for 100 women on exclusive breastfeeding of up to six months and appropriate complementary food as an extended activity”, he underscored. “Another pertinent activity we have in perspective, is to develop Nutrcartes, through which we can educate women on best breastfeeding practices”, Dr. Harouna added.

JnA Oben Foundation Vitamin A Formular

Taking the cue, Merveille Ngueke a laboratory researcher of the J&A Oben Foundation, presented the foundation’s Anti-avitaminose A formula for infants, pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

Merveille revealed that, despite all efforts to eradicate the avitaminose A deficiency, a 2014 statistics show that about 45% of infant mortality are a result of Vitamin A deficiency. “According a UN 2014 report, the government of Cameroon spend over 780 million USD every year to provide vitamin A vaccines to infants, which are still not effective” she said.

“That is why the Cameroon Nutrition and Dietetics Research Centre (CANDIREC) of J&A Oben Foundation researched and came out with a curative and long term solution” Merveille added.

According to the research associate Merveille, the formula J&A Oben Foundation is proposing, will be less costly and more effective. “

On his part, the Nutrition Chief of UNICEF lauded the work J&A has been doing so far to promote nutrition in Cameroon. “I am very much interested in the training that the Professional School of Dietetics and Functional Foods is doing because we need more nutritionist in Cameroon to help in the fight against malnutrition”, he said.

The UNICEF Nutrition Chief expressed satisfaction to the work the Nutrition Incubator of JnA Oben Foundation has done so far, especially with the training of Journalist on Nutrition reporting. He encouraged the department to write more papers on nutrition for resource mobilization. “I appreciate that you brought Nutrition Ambassadors onboard, and will encourage you to put every effort to make sure it works” Marc Donald said.

Future Plans

The UNICEF Nutrition Chief said he will like to work with JnA Oben Foundation on Food Formulation to ensure that good and quality food be made available in the Cameroon market. “I will like us to create more food formulas for infants he added.

On the question on ensuring 6 months exclusive breastfeeding among working mothers, Professor Julius Oben, Cofounder of JnA Oben Foundation said the foundation is working on a project to get institutions in Cameroon to build Breast Feeding Healthy Rooms, where nursing mothers can breastfeed or store breast milk at work. “We are already working on a project with our Nutrition Ambassador, Mr. Njong Eric of BUNS Cameroon to build a Breastfeeding Healthy Room in his company”, Professor Julius said.

He also advised that, the law on a three months maternity leave should be increased to six months so that nursing mothers will have ample time to exclusively breastfeed their children.

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