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Involve governors forum and prioritize nutrition in party political manifesto : stakeholders

Give nutrition a space in party political manifesto: Stakeholders urge parliamentarians

Parliamentarians at the just concluded two – day Legislative engagement on improved nutrition for 13 Focal States, have been urged to ensure nutrition is prioritized In the national development plan and in party political manifesto.

The keynote address speaker, National Coordinator Academic and Research Network, Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, University of Abuja, Professor. Kola Anigo, made the call while presenting a paper on “ Status update on Nutrition interventions across the states” noting that, the challenges of malnutrition requires a paradigm shift to focus

Attention on both prevention and treatment immediately for significant

Progress in nutrition in Nigeria.

He explained that, Providing resources and guidance to facilitate the delivery of nutrition policy and plans at national and sub-national levels is critical pointing out that, approving the creation of Nutrition departments to ensure continuous funding to scale up cost-effective, life-saving nutrition interventions is the way to go.

According to him, the consequences of Malnutrition are enormous as Human Capital Index Project, had attempted to quantify the contribution of health, including nutrition, and education to the next generation of workers, nothing that, “ Nigeria ranks 152 out of 157 countries, indicating a low human capital index that calls for serious concern and actions.

Professor Anigo says, even when the child is born, there’s what we call 1,000 days of life.

The first 1,000 days which is from conception to two years, is a very critical period when the brain cell develops,  “ If the necessary nutrients and environment is not provided, if the child misses that at that point, whatever compromise or impairment that has happened to the brain development cannot be reversed “ adding that,  “ That is why most of the interventions are also targeted at the mother and the child within that 1,000 days of life because it’s a very critical period.

According to Professor Anigo, although Nigeria has shown commitment to eradicating hunger and malnutrition, it is a strong foundation for improved standard of living for citizens and socioeconomic development of the nation,

“ there is the need to scale up high impact and cost effective nutrition interventions to reduce the worsening nutrition situation in Nigeria which led to signing unto the Scaling up Nutrition (SUN) movement in 2011”. 

In addition, Anigo said to address nutrition issues in the states and by extension in the country, accountability is critical because one of their mandates is to be able to have oversight on funds that have been released and how those funds are utilised.”

“ This justifies the need for the reviewed policy on food and nutrition

Published in 2016 which is domesticated by states with the development of a multi-sectoral plan of action “. He stressed

The Speaker, Niger State House of Assembly Rt. Hon. Barr. Abdulmalik Muhammad Sarkindaji in his submissions believe that, involving the governor’s forum and highlighting the impact of nutrition on health, cognitive development, and people’s productivity, will drive the message home having got the details and better understanding of the risks malnutrition portends. “ It is high time that governors attach importance to nutrition, CS – SUNN should invite the governors and acquaint them with the development “.

“ The least I can do is to invite the counselors in my local government and constituencies to convey the message of CS SUNN to them,

Highlighting the local nutrition picture and priorities, explaining in details challenges and benefits “. He said

CS-SUNN BOT Chairman, Mbang Kooffreh-Ada also charged the legislators to, not only implement policies that would improve nutrition but to ensure that they also get to people in the grassroots.

Kooffreh-Ada opined that, government should partner with the agricultural sector to produce affordable and nutritious food that would be easily accessible. 

“So, it makes a lot of sense that if we have the full support of governments from the highest level, where we probably have now many ministries that are responsible for many nutrition interventions.

“It would now coordinate the activities going on in states and local governments and then you have the dedicated personnel to handle the various aspects of nutrition interventions –

“Don’t forget, we are considering nutrition interventions; it’s not just food on the table. “Long before food gets on the table, we need to consider production “ she stated.

There is the need to think about the role of agriculture, understand the role of education which is crucial because it is not just to eat like some people think.

“But they don’t know that eating is not enough. Is what you are eating nutritious enough, she asked.

Still talking Nutrition, the Executive Secretary, Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, Mr. Sunday Okoronkwo want legislators in the states that had not pass laws approving six- month maternity leave to enable women practice exclusive breastfeeding to do so pointing out that, it is the best form of antidote for nutrition practices that can prevent malnutrition for children.

Mr Okoronkwo stressed that, “ when you compare the burden of malnutrition in those states, looking at manifestations of malnutrition in the form of stunting, wasting, and under-nutrition, all of which are high, it becomes pressing that they both pass the law as a policy at the executive level “.       “.

He noted that one of the drivers of malnutrition is lack of funds. “So part of what this meeting is aimed at is presenting facts and figures before the legislators to show them the gaps that exist between what the problem is, the existing funding for nutrition and the need for increased funding.

“It’s not just about allocation, but also they should work on ensuring the prompt releases and effective utilisation of the fund.

“So for us, that’s the second core objective. And then thirdly also, there’s this fund, Child Nutrition Fund that is managed by UNICEF in the country. It’s a four-year pool fund being put together by some international donors including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

“The idea is to provide nutrition commodities so as to make them available, such that if the states put down, a portion, they will complement it with a portion. If states, for example, which is the minimum contribute $100,000, these donors will match it with $100,000 so they can get $200,000 worth of nutrition commodities.”

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