Malnutrition: Ministry advocates scaling up high impact interventions
Dr Chris Isokpunwu, Head of Nutrition Department, Federal Ministry of Health, says scaling up high impact interventions will go a long way in addressing the nation’s nutrition burden.
Isokpunwu disclosed this at the dissemination meeting of the 2018 Global Nutrition Report Fact Sheet, on Thursday, in Abuja.
He identified some of the interventions as focusing on healthy diet to drive nutrition everywhere, and promoting exclusive breastfeeding.
Others according to him are; adequate complementary feeding, iron and folic acid supplementation, food fortification, bio-fortification and treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in children.
He emphasised that preventive measures were key to curbing malnutrition, adding that more efforts should be channeled towards prevention rather than the curative.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the meeting was organised by the Civil Society on Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) in collaboration with the nutrition unit of the Federal Ministry of Health.
Isokpunwu said that the major challenge in achieving targets in the country was lack of implementing policies, adding that Nigeria was good at making policies, but often failed in implementation.
He specifically noted the National Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition (NSPAN) which had been reviewed and articulated years back, but till date, no resources had been made available to implement the plan.
According to him, the plan is aimed at promoting the delivery of effective interventions that will ensure adequate nutrition to all Nigerians, especially vulnerable groups.
He said to facilitate speed in the country’s nutrition sector, there was need to breakdown silos, develop and implement comprehensive programmes, prioritise and invest in the required data; as well as boost capacity to use such data.
“Everything in Nigeria is fine but the major issue is implementing large scale interventions that have been proposed and articulated.
“Based on the report however, Nigeria is making progress in some nutrition indicators like; stunting and wasting in under five kids and exclusive breastfeeding.
“But the progress is slow and needs to be scaled up,’’ he said.
Isokpunwu explained that the report, produced annually, was to shed light on where progress had been made, as well as identify where challenges remained.
According to him, the report also aims to inspire governments, civil society and private stakeholders, to act to end all forms of malnutrition.
“It also plays the important role of helping and holding stakeholders to account on the commitments they have made towards tackling malnutrition.”
Similarly, the Project Manager of CS-SUNN, Mr Sunday Okoronkwo, identified domestic resources or funding for nutrition as key in curbing Nigeria’s malnutrition.
“If we are serious about bringing malnutrition to an end, more money has to be allocated to the sector,’’ Okoronkwo said.
He expressed sadness over the attitude of some stakeholders saying that partners that were supposed to show commitment that would encourage government to follow suit, were the ones funding the course of malnutrition.
“Until government takes ownership of the fight against malnutrition, all efforts will be in vain.
“Governments cutting across federal, state and local, and even at the world level need to provide funding to fight malnutrition.
“As Nigeria continues to seek for increased funding for nutrition, the Global Nutrition Report for Nigeria provides evidence-based data on the need for increased investments that will result in positive nutrition outcomes for the country.
“Since we are saying prevention is better than cure, as we are treating SAM cases, it is also good we provide adequately for preventive measures.
“We must encourage our women to ensure exclusively breastfeeding for six months, and then introduce complementary feeding until the child is two years.
“If we are able to do that, very soon we will discover that Nigeria will no longer have stunted and wasting children because we would have taken some steps to prevent occurrence,’’ Okoronkwo added.
NAN reports that Wasting, or low weight for height, is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five, and usually the result of acute significant food shortage and/or disease. (NAN)