The Wife of the President, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, on Thursday declared the increasing rate of malnutrition in the country as “a state of emergency’’.
Mrs Buhari said this at the commemoration of the Nigeria Nutrition Week and the launching of the maiden edition of newsletter on food and nutrition in Abuja.
The week is aimed at reducing the burden of the malnutrition through awareness creation on how to eat and what to eat.
Represented by Mrs Pauline Tallen, former Deputy Governor of Plateau, Mrs Buhari decried the ranking of Nigeria as having the highest number of malnourished children in Africa and second highest in the world.
She further described as frightening the death of 2,300 under-five children and 145 women of childbearing age on a daily basis due to malnutrition.
She emphasised that malnutrition remains a global health challenge and the underlining factor responsible for over 50 per cent of ill-health and mortality rate among under-five children.
“This is a disturbing reality which requires a declaration of a state of emergency against malnutrition in the country.
“I request that there should be a declaration of a state of emergency against malnutrition in the country.
“The reversed National Policy on Food and Nutrition has been disseminated to all states of the federation by the National Committee on Food and Nutrition and the domestication of the policy has been done by many states.
“The revised policy is the foundation of pragmatic action against malnutrition. I call on all states of the federation to domesticate it and draw up plans of action from the policy laid before us.
“This will give way for the government budgetary process to factor in commitment to nutrition across all levels of government and that of development partners.
“I therefore call on all stakeholders in food and nutrition security, poverty alleviation and indeed all Nigerians to get involved in efforts to curb the menace of malnutrition in Nigeria,’’ she said.
Mrs Buhari who commended the efforts of UNICEF in the area of education, among others, to boost the nation’s nutrition status, emphasised that curbing the scourge required the concerted effort of relevant ministries and other stakeholders.
She also lauded the commitment of the present administration aimed at bringing the desired change.
She however said that the change can only be achieved when the system is devoid of corruption.
“The political will is there, the President is fully committed to bring the change but the change cannot happen with the situation in our hands.
“The budget will be planned, the money will be there but because of corruption the money will not be channel to the right places that is meant to be. We are all guilty; we must resolve to make the difference.
“We must all resolve to put our hands on the deck and work together as stakeholders to address the scourge of malnutrition in the society,’’ Mrs Buhari said.
Prof. Ngozi Nnam, the President, Federation of African Nutrition Societies, said the Newsletter was aimed at disseminating nutrition information across the country in order for the entire populace to be aware of the importance of eating healthy.
Nnam, who attributed the burden of malnutrition on lack of awareness of the populace on how to eat right, however described the newsletter as a perfect way of reducing the burden.
Prof. Tola Atinmo, Founding President, Federation of African Nutrition Societies (FANUS), described the event as a way to showcase good nutrition in the country.
Atinmo identified the creation of nutrition ambassadors, champions as a way forward in changing the feeding patterns of the grassroots.
According to him, they are in a better position to enlighten mothers on what to do in order to have access to good nutrition.