NHM Nagaland partners with Vitamin Angels India to supplement coverage

Representatives of National Health Mission, Nagaland and Vitamin Angels India during the signing of a partnership to strengthen and expand evidence-based nutrition interventions.

Representatives of National Health Mission, Nagaland and Vitamin Angels India during the signing of a partnership to strengthen and expand evidence-based nutrition interventions.

Kohima, May 27 (MExN): The National Health Mission (NHM), Government of Nagaland, and Vitamin Angels India (VAI) have entered into a partnership to strengthen and expand evidence-based nutrition interventions, specifically vitamin A supplementation and deworming among under-five populations.

As per a press release, a Technical Support Group comprising key officials from NHM, Nagaland, and VAI has been created for this purpose. 

The demonstration pilot will be undertaken across Dimapur, Niuland, and Chümoukedima over 2024-25. The formative research phase for the pilot is set to commence on the ground by June-July 2024.

The project is an extension of an ongoing partnership between both parties and uses an implementation science approach to increasing the demand and improving the supply and delivery of vitamin A.

The release further noted that micronutrient deficiency is a major contributor to childhood morbidity and mortality globally.

As an essential nutrient for the immune system, severe Vitamin A Deficiency (VAD) can cause irreversible childhood blindness, reduce immunity, and increase the chances of mortality from measles and diarrhoeal disease, it said. 

According to the Government of India’s recommendation, children under 5 years of age must receive 9 dosages of vitamin A supplements every six months, starting at age 9 months, it added. 

Citing the National Family Health Survey (NFHS-5, 2019-21), the release further noted that about 46% of children aged 9-35 months received vitamin A supplementation (VAS) in Nagaland compared to the all-India level of around 71%. 

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) believes that while universal coverage (i.e., 100%) is the ultimate goal, even 80% coverage is an indication of a strong programme, it informed. 

While VAI has been working in partnership with local NGOs since 2011, they formally entered into an MoU with NHM, Nagaland in 2021 with an overall vision to improve child health indicators through a health system strengthening approach.

Meanwhile, speaking about the partnership, Dr  Khelito Zhimomi, Joint Director, SPO-RMNCAH+N, said that while Nagaland has made significant strides in improving nutritional indicators among women and children, the government is keen on working intensively to understand and improve deficient areas. 

The partnership presents an opportunity to address both demand and supply challenges in supplementation, and the State Government has offered its full support to the teams on the ground from NHM and VAI, he said. 

“We look forward to positive improvements in the time to come,” he added.

Shruti Menon, Associate Director of Programmes at VAI, also expressed appreciation to NHM leadership in Nagaland for continuing the longstanding partnership and asserted that VAI is determined and invested in improving health and nutrition services to the last mile.

As per the release, VAI has been operational in India for over a decade and has reached out to over 16 million children under 5 with Vitamin A and Albendazole through a network of 1800+ programme partners. VAI also supports State and Union Territory governments to strengthen their Vitamin A supplementation programmes in Tripura, Jammu and Kashmir, Nagaland, Ladakh, Mizoram, Manipur, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, and Puducherry.