Except Oyo State government improves its investments and releases funds for nutrition specific and sensitive intervention, the growth and development of no less than 57.4 per cent of children will continue to be poor.
Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) pooled fund project advocacy brief indicated that budgetary allocation to nutrition from 2015 to 2018 depicts an underfunded sector that has resulted in poor nutrition outcomes and indices in the state.
CS-SUNN project officer, Mr Ambrose Evhoesor, at the presentation of the advocacy brief on Tuesday, said government investments in the key nutrition interventions such as exclusive breastfeeding, fortification of foods, micronutrient and treatment of severe acute malnutrition have been insufficient.
According to him, “a total of N205.2million, representing 0.01 per cent of Oyo State’s total budget was allocated to the identified nutrition-specific interventions. In 2017 and 2018 nutrition-specific allocation was N450million, representing 0.2 per cent of the total budget of Oyo State.
“In the fiscal year 2014, a total sum of N285.2 million was allocated to the identified nutrition-sensitive interventions which come to approximately 0.19 per cent of Oyo State’s enacted budget.
“Allocation decreased in relative and absolute terms in the fiscal year 2015. A total of N172.2million, representing 0.02 per cent of Oyo State aggregate expenditure was allocated to the identified nutrition-sensitive interventions, figures for 2016, 2017 and 2018 were N143.1million, 397.5million and 636.6million respectively.”
Mr Evhoesor said if the state improves investments and releases funds timely for nutrition specific and sensitive interventions will reduce stunting among children under five years by 50 per cent and the proportion of persons who suffer from hunger by 50 per cent by 2025.
He added that this would also increase exclusive breastfeeding rate by 50 per cent and vitamin A supplementation by 50 per cent by 2025.
Mr Evhoesor said 2018 National Demographic Health Survey indicated that 34.5 per cent, 3.8 per cent and 19.1 per cent of children under five are stunted (too short for their ages), wasted (too thin for their heights) and underweight (too thin for their ages) respectively in the state.
He stated that 49.5 per cent of children under five are exclusively breastfed and below World Health Organisation and UNICEF target of at least 50 per cent.
According to him, “adequate nutrition is essential for children’s growth and development and the first 1000 days of a child’s life is especially important for optimal physical, mental and cognitive growth, health and development.
”It is essential that the state government increases investment in nutrition interventions in nutrition-specific and sensitive interventions. Every dollar invested in nutrition interventions would yield between $4 and $35 in economic returns.
“So our task is the scale-up of key nutrition-specific interventions; ensuring an effective institutional system for nutrition and the full implementation of Oyo State strategic plan of action for nutrition.”