Determined to improve health and nutrition of pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers in Nigeria, the Federal Government has launched the use of mobile phone to circulate nutrition information in the country.
The programme tagged “mNutrition” is a process of using mobile technology to send text messages to Nigerians with a view to expanding access to health and nutrition services.
In his keynote address during its launch in Abuja, the Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole said that the programme was a step towards achieving Universal Health Coverage(UHC).
Professor Adewole said that mNutrition Programme was aimed at leveraging on mobile technology to scale up health and nutrition outcomes in Nigeria.
Adewole noted that malnutrition was known to slow economic growth and perpetuate poverty by reducing children’s brain development, their ability to learn, and be productive citizens during their adult years, stressing that malnourished children learn less in school and were more likely to drop out of school and eventually earn less as adults.
He said that most malnutrition happens in the first 1000 days of a child’s life- from conception to child’s second birthday and the damage caused at that period is irreversible, adding that it impairs cognitive development, reduce learning ability and loss of productivity in adult years.
The Minister appreciated Mr Ernest Ndukwe, the former Vice Chairman, NCC, Akinwale Goodluck, Head, GSMA Sub-Saharan African, DFID, UNCEF, ECOWAS, and GRAMEEN FOUNDATION for their contributions towards achieving mobile nutrition progrmme in the country.
Speaking on Integrating Mobile Telecommunications into Nutrition Programme in Nigeria, the Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire said that nutrition was a key factor in the reduction of high maternal and child mortality.
Osagie said that reduction of child mortality and morbidity due to malnutrition could be achieved through coordinated efforts by all stakeholders to increase coverage and access to nutrition services such as special attention to women during pregnancy, promotion of health education as well as improve infant and young children feeding.
Earlier, the Head of Sub-Sahara Africa, GSMA, Mr. Akinwale Goodluck, a Nigerian living and working in Nairobi, Kenya said that Nigeria was one of the eight selected countries for mNutrition. Other countries include Kenya, Ghana, Malawi, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
He observed that it was apparent that mobile phone had the capacity to change the way and manner people behave, as a result, it was imperative to use mobile technology to create more awareness on Nutrition in Nigeria.