FG, UNICEF, others launch 5 years strategy to address malnutrition

The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning in partnership with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), has embarked on a five-year action plan to tackle malnutrition in the country.

The National Multi-sectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition” was launched as part of activities to commemorate the 2021 Nutrition week sensitisation of MDAs officers on nutrition awareness.

The Deputy Director, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Chito Nelson, in her opening speech, explained that the aim of the event was to create awareness on the issues of nutrition.

Nelson said the high indices of malnutrition in the country were worrisome and that it was important to reverse the trend.

Nelson, while speaking further quoted the National Demographic and Health Survey of 2019 reports that exclusive breastfeeding in the country is low as the survey recorded only 29 per cent compliance.

“The high rate of stunted and malnourished children would be reduced when women comply with exclusive breastfeeding”.

“There’s the need for Nigerians to plant what they eat, as it would protect their bodies and improve their health”.

“Bio-diversification is still also very poor, our meals are also very monotonous, people should try to diversify their diets.

“People should at least eat from the food groups, ensuring that vegetables and fruits are part of what is consumed.

“We are encouraging people to diversify because of what they will gain from these foods, having adequate diets,” she said.

“Federal Government would continue to encourage Nigerians to plant vegetables and fruits around their homes, so as to have easy access to nutritional foods”.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Nutrition Officer, Nkeiruka Enwelum, , in her goodwill message admonished all sectors to create a new narrative about nutrition in the country.

Ewenlum further said for a long time, nutrition has been seen as the job of one sector, but with the new evidence that we have now, it can be seen that nutrition is not only the job of the health sector, it is also not only the job of the agricultural sector.

“We need to forge this new partnership in the wake of food systems dialogue that has been had since January in order to strengthen Nigeria’s commitments and drives towards the achievements of the commitment Nigeria has made during the global food system summit in September 23rd 202”.

“This partnership calls on the diverse actors to come together to be able to create a new narrative for nutrition”.

“This is very important because, for the longest time, nutrition has been seen as the job of one sector. But with the new evidence that we have now, we’ve seen that nutrition is not the job of the health sector. It is also not the job of the agricultural sector. It is a job of all sectors and all individuals, partners put together”.

“This partnership is essential for us to create a new narrative for nutrition. I keep on harping on a new narrative for nutrition because there has been a proliferation of false nutrition messages around concerning what people eat, what they shouldn’t eat and all of that and so, this new narrative will help us to be able to send out the right messaging out there and also to drive action and commitment towards improved nutrition”.

“It is important for us to work towards doing our own part to ensure that we reverse the adverse trend of malnutrition in Nigeria”.

The Country Director, GAIN, Dr Michael Ojo said that the launch of the action plan was coming at the right time as it would go a long way in tackling malnutrition in the country.

Ojo, who was represented by Joyce Akpata, Head of Policy and Advocacy, GAIN, added that the media should also use their platforms to advocate for the promotion of healthy diets.

“We have to prioritize because this is going to be a long haul. Our pathways document sets out the country’s plans for the period to 2030”.

“We should set interim goals but focus on what can be achieved within political cycles too, as that is the reality of governance on the ground. GAIN is already working with the Min of FB&NP, the FMoH, FMARD, and others on some of the key components such as the generation of national and state-level food systems data”.

“We will be pleased to support the capacitation of the Ministry in many other ways including supporting government at the federal level and in states to navigate this complex agenda, bring multiple players together, update strategic plans to reflect what needs to be done over time, as well as to manage, monitor and report on progress”.

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