Nigeria launches nutrition report; pledges more funding

Rafat Salami

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari has launched the 2016 Global Nutrition report to reduce the malnutrition cases in Northern Nigeria.

President Buhari at the High Level Policy dialogue on Nutrition which took place in Abuja on Monday, said this was important to help focus on the issues of childcare especially given the importance of nutrition.

President Buhari who was represented by the Minister of Labour and employment said “everyday, about 2,300 children under the age of five die of malnutrition, we cannot allow it; the malnutrition indices are worst in North West and East but the situation is more in the North East. About 20 per cent of the burden of malnutrition is in these two regions.”

He said federal government recently approved and launched a multi sectorial policy on food and nutrition as well as health sector plan which set cost, nutrition specific interventions and measurable targets.

This, he said, was part of the effort to reduce malnutrition from the children under five years old.

He said Nutrition was key to the development of the country because  “children who are well nourished in the first two years of life are more likely to do better at school and be more productive throughout their lifetime as adults.”

Represented by the Minister of Labour and Employment, Mr Chris Ngige, the president said the report was aimed at making it easier for government and other stakeholders to make high impact commitment to reduce malnutrition in all its forms.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Health organiser of the Policy Dialogue Senator  Lanre Tejuoso, called for  more funding for nutrition saying that the pledge by UNICEF would not address nutrition issues in the country.

He said “UNICEF had pledged to treat 600,000 of 2.5 million malnourished children in the country by 2017 but the remaining 1.9 million children needed to be budgeted for by the federal government, adding that about N50,000 was needed for the treatment of each child.”

 

NUTRITION POLICY

In September 2016, Nigeria launched the revised National Food and Nutrition policy for Nigeria.

Among others;

  • The policy seeks to improve food security at the household and aggregate levels to guarantee that families have access to safe food that is adequate (both in quantity and quality) to meet the nutritional requirements for a healthy and active life.
  • It will also enhance care-giving capacity within households with respect to child feeding and child care practices, as well as addressing the care and well-being of mothers;
  • The policy will improve the provision of human services, such as health care, environmental sanitation, education, and community development and also improve the capacity within the country to address food and nutrition problems; and
  • The National food and Nutrition policy seeks to raise understanding of the problems of malnutrition in Nigeria at all levels of society, especially with respect to its causes and possible solutions.

At the launch of the Food Policy, wife of Nigeria’s President Hajia Aisha Buhari was also decorated as the Nutrition Ambassador of Nigeria.