Establish Nutrition Departments In Relevant MDAs, CSOs Urge FG

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Nutritious foods
Nutritious foods

The Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) and the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN have urged the Federal Government to create nutrition departments in pertinent ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) nationwide.

This plea was made on Tuesday in Abuja at a media roundtable on the establishment of nutrition departments and their impact on nutrition coordination, funding and policy implementation.

Food insecurity and malnutrition persist as major issues in Nigeria, with 26.5 million Nigerians predicted to face food insecurity in 2024, mainly affecting the conflict-ridden Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states. Addressing malnutrition’s complex nature necessitates a multi-sectoral approach with centralised coordination.

The experts stressed that malnutrition is a multifaceted problem requiring engagement from all governmental sectors. They emphasised the need for each sector to execute programs as per its mandate and in alignment with the National Policy on Food and Nutrition and the Multi-sectoral Plan of Action.

During his presentation, the national coordinator of the Academic and Research Network for Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, Prof. Kola Anigo emphasised the importance of sustaining effective coordination mechanisms, establishing a transparent funding system, and ensuring prompt release and utilisation of government-allocated funds.

Anigo also emphasised the significance of fostering an enabling environment that bolsters the existing political resolve to ensure nutrition security. Key ministries identified for nutrition departments include the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs, the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and the Federal Ministry of Budget and National Planning.

A nutrition consultant, Dr. Davis Omotola argued that the mere establishment of nutrition departments is insufficient. He highlighted the importance of demonstrating the country’s commitment to its people, particularly in providing adequate nutrition counseling for women and vitamin A supplementation for children.

Establishing these nutrition departments is seen as crucial in enhancing government funding for nutrition in the country. Omotola noted that those opposed to creating nutrition departments likely lack an awareness of their benefits, underscoring the need for continuous education.

According to Science Nigeria, nutrition forms the foundation of health and development, contributing to improved health outcomes for infants, children, and mothers, bolstered immunity, safer pregnancies, reduced risks of chronic diseases like diabetes and cardiovascular ailments and increased life expectancy.

Nutrition is pivotal for the growth and well-being of children and adolescents, the productivity of adults and the economic progress of a nation. The collaborative effort of all government sectors, guided by the National Policy on Food and Nutrition and the Multi-sectoral Plan of Action, is essential in combating the multifaceted challenge of malnutrition.

Racheal Abujah
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