Implement nutrition policy for national development- Civil Societies

Gloria Essien, Abuja


The issue of lack of nutrition in children has once again been brought to the front burner of discuss in Nigeria.

This was the highlight of the town hall meeting of Civil Societies Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, in Abuja.

The Chairman of CS-SUNN, Prof. Ngozi Nnam, said that Civil Societies need to hold government accountable to nutrition commitments at sub national level.

She said “Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-five year olds and 145 women of childbearing age, making the country the second largest contributor to the under–five and maternal mortality rate in the world. Malnutrition is the underlying cause of 53% of these deaths manifesting as under nutrition, micronutrient deficiency and over nutrition.”
“Malnourished children have an increased risk of disability, premature death and are highly predisposed to infectious diseases,” she added.

Prof. Nnam, said that inadequate nutrition increases maternal and child mortality in Nigeria.

She also said that one of the major causes of malnutrition in Nigeria is sub-optimal infant and young child feeding practices as only 17 percent of children less than 6 months are exclusively breastfed and complementary foods are not introduced in a timely fashion to them.

She further said “only ten percent of children aged 6-23 months are fed appropriately based on recommended infant and young child feeding practices.”

The town hall meeting also advocated for improved Family Nutrition status especially among mothers and children in Nigeria.

Prof. Nnam said that the ultimate goal of CS-SUNN, is to have a country where every citizen has food and is nutrition-secured. Investments in nutrition interventions at all levels will combat malnutrition as well as help Nigerian children reach their full potential and advance economic development.

While presenting a report titled ‘Update on driver of malnutrition in FCT and 10 MPTF states’, the Project Director of CS-SUNN, Mrs. Beatrice Eluaka, pointed out that  37% of Nigerian children under-five are stunted (too short for their
age), 29% are underweight (too thin for their age), and 18% are wasted (too thin for their height).

She also noted that ” Nigeria has the highest number of stunted children under five years in sub-Saharan Africa, and the second highest in the world with 37% translating to one in every three children under five years classified as stunted or too short for age.
Mrs. Eluaka also said that the recent National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS) 2015 based on the World Health Organization (WHO) classification of malnutrition, reported the prevalence of chronic malnutrition (stunting) as being critical in Kebbi (58.3%), Sokoto (56.5%) and Gombe (44.1%), serious in Adamawa (33.2%) and Kwara (31.8%), precarious in
AkwaIbom (24.1%), almost precarious in Delta (19.9%) and FCT (19.2%)
while acceptable in Lagos (11.1%), Enugu (8%) and Anambra(7.6%).
The meeting agreed that to address these poor nutrition indices, Nigeria needs to domesticate the developed National Policy on Food and Nutrition (2016) which provides an overarching framework, covering the multiple dimensions of food and nutrition improvement.

Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) is a non-governmental, non-profit making coalition, made up of organizations with a shared vision to transform Nigeria into a country where every citizen has food and nutrition is secured.