Against the background of huge burden of malnutrition in Nigeria and national efforts to tackle the anomaly, the Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) has urged state governments without budget lines for nutrition to create such.
The Executive Secretary of CS-SUNN, Beatrice Eluaka, who made the call, also urged the state governments to ensure releases with specific funds allotted to interventions around micronutrient powder, biofortification, iron folate supplementation and Vitamin A supplementation, among others.
She spoke during a one-day media roundtable on Micro-Nutrient Deficiency Control, organised by CS-SUNN in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, in Lagos recently.
According to UNICEF, every day in Nigeria, 2,300 under five-year-old children die, with malnutrition being the underlying cause of more than half of these deaths.
Explaining the need for a budget line for nutrition, Eluaka said, micronutrient deficiencies (MND), a public health problem, was a significant problem that has persisted overtime in Nigeria and it was caused by a lack of essential vitamins and minerals like vitamin A, zinc, iron, iodine in diets.
Similarly, she noted that it has continued to contribute to morbidity and mortality among children by impairing immunity, impeding cognitive development and growth as well as reducing physical capacity and work performance in adulthood.
To this end, Eluaka said: “We underscore the need to strengthen multi-sectoral coordination across institutional structures documented in the National Policy for Food and Nutrition to address the causes of micro-nutrition deficiencies (MNDC) and the need for promotion of the production of biofortified crops among Nigerian farmers to ensure availability for consumption among Nigerians.
She said, “Some of these measures, if in place will reduce the incidence of micro-nutrient deficiencies and contribute to improving nutrition outcome in Nigeria.”
On his part, the Deputy Director and Head, Micro-nutrient Deficiency Control at the FMOH, Mr. John Uruakpa identified essential minerals and vitamins needed for proper growth and development such as vitamin A, iodine, iron, zinc and folate.
He disclosed that the Federal Government has made efforts towards controlling micro-nutrient deficiency in the country, adding that the government response included food fortification, de-worming, bio-fortification, dietary diversification and supplementation.
He, however, admitted that government could not do it alone, but needed the investment of partners and the private sector.