Nigeria Faces Malnutrition, Obesity Crisis, Says FG

malnutrition

Nigeria faces significant nutrition challenges, including undernutrition, micronutrient deficiency and over-nutrition leading to overweight and obesity, according to the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH).

Speaking at the 17th ECOWAS Nutrition Forum in Abuja, the director and head of nutrition at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Binyerem Ukaire outlined the government’s strategic response to these challenges. This includes creating an enabling policy environment for the National Food and Nutrition Policy and developing the Nigeria Global Action Plan (GAP) on waste reduction.

The ECOWAS Nutrition Forum, with the theme “Leveraging Sustainable Financing for Multi-sectoral Approaches: Accelerate Universal Access to Nutritious, Safe, Affordable and Sustainable Diets,” aims to address the region’s key nutrition challenges by accelerating the eradication of hunger, increasing political commitment and investment in food security and better-coordinating nutrition interventions at all levels.

The 2021 Global Nutrition Report revealed that diets are not getting healthier, with unacceptable high levels of malnutrition affecting every country in the world, including those in the ECOWAS region. The scaling up of nutrition-specific and sensitive interventions and the optimised use of resources for impact, along with solidarity between governments and partners in mobilising additional resources for nutrition, is key to achieving global targets for nutrition in the ECOWAS region.

According to EU-Joint Research Center Scientific Officer, Ms. Roos Verstraeten malnutrition is multi-causal and any adequate response must be a coordinated multi-sectoral approach that includes mainstreaming nutrition across diverse policy areas. Achieving global nutrition agendas necessitates a comprehensive and coherent set of actions, programmes and policies addressing both underlying and immediate causes of malnutrition.

The regional nutrition advisor, UNICEF, Dr. Simeon Nanama highlighted that stunting is a big challenge in the ECOWAS region and the region must reduce the stunting rate to 4.2 per cent to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 by 2030. To address the issue, he said, the region could use available data to understand how to address the issues.

WHO’s regional adviser for nutrition and food safety, Dr. Laetitia Ouedraogo-Nikiema said that the region needs to protect and promote diets, services and practices that support optimal nutrition, growth and development for all children, adolescents and women.

“However, the current food system does not enable the region to provide food for children, and policies and actions to promote safe and healthy diets in the ECOWAS region are needed.”

The nutrition lead for the West Africa Health Organisation (WAHO), Dr. Namoudou Keita said that the region is discussing intersectionality to eradicate malnutrition. The 17th ECOWAS Nutrition Forum aims to accelerate the eradication of hunger, increase political commitment and investment in food security, and better coordinate nutrition interventions at all levels.

The forum is an opportunity to examine innovative multi-sectoral collaboration practices that work best in terms of the synergy of action and sustainable financing of nutrition interventions.

About 250 nutrition experts from across the region are participating in the meeting, which is being organised by WAHO, with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) Nigeria, in collaboration with a coalition of technical and financial partners. The meeting is expected to be opened by Nigeria’s Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, alongside a host of regional nutrition champions.

Racheal Abujah
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