Private Sector Holds Enormous Potential For Improved Nutrition Outcomes – CS-SUNN

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The Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) has emphasised that the private sector has immense potential to contribute to improved nutrition outcomes in the country.

During a media roundtable on Partnership for Improving Nigeria Nutrition System (PINNS) held in Abuja on Thursday, the executive secretary of CS-SUNN, Mr. Sunday Okoronkwo highlighted that private companies can make significant contributions to nutrition through their corporate social responsibility initiatives. They can invest in nutrition-sensitive interventions, promote healthy food choices, and develop innovative solutions to address malnutrition challenges.

Okoronkwo stated, “Partnerships with the private sector leverage resources, expertise, and market reach for maximum impact.”

He also emphasised the crucial role of international organizations, foundations, and donors in supporting governments and local stakeholders in implementing the Micronutrient Deficiencies in Nigeria (MNDC) guideline. Their financial and technical assistance, capacity-building efforts, and knowledge-sharing significantly contribute to achieving nutrition goals.

“The active involvement of these key stakeholders in the implementation of the MNDC guideline can yield substantial benefits, including enhanced coordination and collaboration, avoiding duplication of resources, and maximising impact,” he added.

According to Okoronkwo, increased investment in nutrition programmes, along with the availability and accessibility of essential services such as antenatal care, nutrition education, safe water, sanitation, hygiene, and improved healthcare systems, can strengthen community engagement and empower individuals to make informed choices, adopt healthy behaviours and sustain positive nutrition outcomes.

Furthermore, he emphasised that governments play a pivotal role in setting nutrition policies, allocating resources, and establishing regulatory frameworks. Government agencies need to prioritize nutrition in national agendas, mobilize funding, and create an enabling environment for the effective implementation of the MNDC guideline.

Highlighting the unique abilities of civil society organisations (CSOs), Mr. Okoronkwo stated that they can mobilise communities, raise awareness, and advocate for improved nutrition outcomes. They actively engage in implementing programs, monitoring progress, and holding stakeholders accountable for their commitments.

Collaboration with CSOs and other stakeholders is vital for achieving sustainable nutrition goals, and recognizing their respective roles and responsibilities in implementing the MNDC guideline is essential for all stakeholders. By working together, they can address the complex challenge of hidden hunger and create a healthier future for all.

“This important initiative is part of the result-driven Effective Serviceable Efficient and Transparent for Human Capital Development (RESET4HCD) strategy, aiming to strengthen Nigeria’s nutrition systems and combat malnutrition through evidence-based strategies and collaboration,” he explained.

The NDHS 2018 report reveals that 45.3 per cent of children aged 6-59 months benefit from vitamin A supplementation. Additionally, 68 per cent of Nigerian children under the age of five suffer from anaemia, while 58 per cent of pregnant women experience the same condition.

The 2018 WHO report further highlights that an estimated 40 per cent of pregnant women worldwide are anaemic, with at least half of the burden attributed to iron deficiency. Iron and folic acid deficiencies during pregnancy have negative impacts on both the health of women and fetal development. Unfortunately, these deficiencies are pervasive in Nigeria, although they may not be visible to the naked eye (NI, 2018).

The alarming rates of micronutrient deficiency, also known as hidden hunger, affecting populations globally emphasize the urgency to prioritise the implementation of the MNDC guideline. This guideline offers comprehensive approaches to address the scourge of micronutrient deficiencies among mothers, newborns, and children throughout the life cycle.

The success of these guidelines relies on the collective efforts of various stakeholders, including government agencies, civil society organizations, private sector entities, and development partners.

Racheal Abujah
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