…as CS-SUNN seeks intervention of govts for rapid progress
Executive Secretary of the Civil Society- Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Mrs Beatrice Eluaka has raised the alarm over the impact of micronutrient deficiency (MND), saying it affects about two billion people globally and that Nigeria has an alarming prevalence that has persisted for decades.
To this end, Eluaka has called on governments at all levels to evaluate various programmes addressing MND in the country so as to provide valuable insight on their progress and effectiveness as well as a roadmap on future priorities.
She made these known during a one-day media roundtable on Micro-Nutrient Deficiency Control, an event organised by CS-SUNN in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development.
She said: “There is need to scale-up provision of basic package of nutrition services across Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs) in Nigeria.
“Massive sensitisation, education and awareness creation to provoke behavioural changes that will promote optimal Infant and Young Child feeding practices in communities in Lagos State (like early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and adequate complementary feeding) is critical to combating the MND menace.”
According to Eluaka, the major MND, which are of public health importance include vitamin A, iron and iodine deficiencies, all of which contribute to a variety of morbidities and increased mortality which are most severe in children, adolescent girls and pregnant women, like anaemia in women, birth defects, blindness and poor development in children.
MND is a major public health problem caused by a lack of essential vitamins and minerals (e.g. vitamin A, zinc, iron, iodine) in diets which the body requires in small amounts to survive and thrive. Adequate intake of micronutrients particularly Iron, Vitamin A, Iodine, Zinc from conception to age 24 months is critical for child growth and mental development.
She said: “MNDs continue 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.”
In Africa, Vitamin A deficiency alone is responsible for almost six per cent of child deaths under the age of five years.