L-R; Representative of the First Lady of Lagos State, Mrs Funmilayo Omotosho; Second Right- Special Adviser, Office of Civic Engagement, Princess Aderemi Adebowale presenting food packs to beneficiaries at the flag-off of the Mother, Infant and Chile (M.I.C.H) Pilot programme at the Ikorodu Local Government Area.

The Lagos State Government, on Tuesday flagged off the distribution of food packs to 2,200 indigent pregnant women under the pilot scheme of its Mother, Infant and Child (M.I.C.H) Programme.

The pilot programme is taking place in 11 Local Governments/Local Council Development Areas of the state. The councils are: Ikeja, Badagry, Epe, Ikorodu, Agege, Lagos-Island, Eti-Osa, Alimosho, Shomolu, Kosofe and Ibeju.

The programme, under the Office of Civic Engagement, was flagged off at the Igbogbo/Baiyeku LCDA on Tuesday by the wife of the Governor, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu.

She said in Lagos State, healthcare featured prominently as one of the pillars of the T.H.E.M.E.S Agenda of the present administration with emphasis on provision of affordable, qualitative and accessible healthcare and improvement of primary healthcare facilities in the 20 LGs and 37 LCDAs for all citizens irrespective of their locations or status in the State.

Sanwo-Olu, who was represented by Mrs Funmi Omotosho, said as an expression of his commitment to drawing government nearer to the people through qualitative healthcare from the cradle, the governor had approved a basket of social services known as “Womb to School” with components such as Snacks for Thought and M.I.C.H.

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“The Mother, Infant and Child (M.I.C.H) programme we are witnessing today, though at the pilot stage, is geared not only towards improving maternal and child health of indigent expectant mothers and infants in the State, but ensuring socio-economic balance and inclusion is achieved in the long run,” she stated.

She said under the M.I.C.H programme, government would be meeting the nutritional and medical needs of pregnant mothers, infants and children at the early stage of child development so as to enhance the children’s ability to become well-rounded socially responsible citizens who would not wield negative influence on the society.

“Also, this M.I.C.H, in the short-term, would reduce the incidence of abysmally low attendance of expectant mothers at the State Government’s primary and secondary health facilities for their pre-natal clinics occasioned by the economic hardship in the society.

“The social, health and economic benefits of the programme are enormous. The food pack, which will be given to expectant mothers during their weekly pre-natal visits, would contain the essential food and vitamins needed for the expectant mothers’ well-being and apt development of the baby’s brain even from the womb.

“This will not only encourage attendance of the indigent pregnant women at our primary health facilities, but will enhance delivery of healthy babies with well-developed brains as well as reduce neonatal, infant and maternal mortality among the target group.

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“In addition, the M.I.C.H programme will reduce tension among the indigent families as the weekly food packs will remove strains on the finances of the target group and by extension create peaceful homes for the vulnerable expectant mothers while even continuously engaging and encouraging the immediate families of the beneficiaries to be reliable support systems to the mother and unborn child,” she said.

In her welcome address, Special Adviser to the Governor on Civic Engagement, Princess Aderemi Adebowale, said the programme was approved by the governor as a ‘build-citizens-from-the-womb strategy,’ saying that M.I.C.H, is a component of the ‘Womb to School’ initiative which is a basket of social services initiated by the Office of Civic Engagement with the aim of supporting development of socially responsible citizens from the womb through infancy, childhood, youth into adulthood.

She said the programme was being experimented so as to determine the best approach to the planning and implementation of the scheme statewide, adding that at full launch, 5,000 underprivileged pregnant women to be strictly selected by doctors and specialists in each primary health care centres across the State, would be able to access the M.I.C.H food packs which contain recommended daily nutritional composition of Protein; Carbohydrate; Lactose; Milk Fat; Fibre; Vitamins A, C, D3, E, B1, B2, B6, B12, Calcium and Folic Acid.

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“A M.I.C.H (Food) Collection Card would be issued to and signed by each beneficiary to monitor the distribution of the food items and ensure adequate care is provided to the beneficiaries on a weekly basis.

“In order to ensure this programme is impactful, we will ensure that the participating pregnant women receive qualitative health care and follow-up through home visits by a dedicated team of public and State-approved private community health workers and medical consultants.

“Also, each of the beneficiaries would be given access to a toll free line with membership of a social media chat group created in each local government area for direct feedback as part of the monitoring and evaluation process of the office of Civic Engagement,” she said.

Adebowale urged urge every beneficiary to cooperate with government’s team of medical experts and care volunteers at every stage of the process, stressing that M.I.C.H would not only encourage ante-natal hospital visits at primary health care facilities, thus, reducing maternal and infant mortality rates, but would promote responsible family planning as a family with first pregnancy could enjoy this programme twice within the spate of three (3) years, while those already with two or more children would enjoy the benefit only once.