Nigeria needs $912 million to fight malnutrition, says expert



Head of Nutrition, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Chris Osa Isokpunwu, has said. Nigeria needs over $912 million to implement its National Nutrition Intervention Plan to check the menace malnutrition resulting in high rate of infant/mother mortality in the country.

He spoke while delivering a paper at the UNICEF sponsored Media Dialogue on Child Malnutrition in Owerri, Imo State on July 15, with the theme “Good Nutrition- An investment for the future” where malnutrition was identified as the number one killer of children in the country as out of the total deaths of under-the-age- of-five-years recorded in 2010, malnutrition contributed to 53 per cent or half of it.

In the paper: “The Nutrition Situation in Nigeria: An Overview of Malnutrition in Nigeria and its Impact on Children,” Isokponwu said: “Every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 under-five year olds and 145 women of childbearing age which makes the country the second largest contributor to the under–five and maternal mortality rate in the world.”

Saying Nigeria is faced with triple burden of under-nutrition, micronutrient deficiency and over-nutrition which among other things equally lead to stunting, wasting, underweight and children not doing well in school, Isokponwu listed zones with worst affected to include; North West and North East and North Central while the South West, South East and South South have medium and lower cases.

To check the embarrassing trend and create high impact nutrition intervention, he said there was need for a behavioural change intervention, micronutrient and de-worming intervention, complimentary and therapeutic feeding interventions.

There is need too for “appropriate policies and guidelines infant and young child feeding, micronutrient deficiency control and community management of acute malnutrition.”

To achieve all these, Isokpunwu said the nation needs $912 million to implement the national Nutrition Intervention Plans through 10 intervention programmes, an investment that would avert 890,000 cases of stunting in five years and save many lives.

He, therefore, suggested that international agencies, the Federal Government, cooperate bodies can key in to raise such funds as the only way forward is for a total support plan implementation, creating of budget line for nutrition, develop state specific plans for nutrition, scale up nutrition intervention in states, mobilise resources for the implementation and integrate nutrition into existing
programmes as of great concern are children of under the ages of five.

Recommendations in a communiqué issued at the workshop include, among others, that the “Federal Government should declare a state of emergency on child malnutrition as findings and researches have shown that over 2.5 million children suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) yearly and show more commitment towards the global efforts against child malnutrition.

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