Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
Worried by the estimated 2.5 million malnourished children, under the age of five years in Nigeria, Minister of Budget and National Planning, Senator Udoma Udo Udoma, has called for concerted efforts to fight malnutrition in the country.
Speaking in Abuja, yesterday, while flagging off the 2018 Nutrition Week, aimed at increasing awareness on the dangers posed by malnutrition, Udoma, who was represented at the event by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Olajide Odewale, said the state of country’s food and nutrition is of utmost interest to the government at all levels, because, if the situation is not attended to, malnutrition, which is, sometimes, referred to as “the silent killer,” could lead to the death of young children.
He said this year’s theme: “Nutrition: an emergency,” was chosen to draw attention to the urgent measures needed to be taken by all relevant stakeholders in combating malnutrition.
“It is important to combat malnutrition, because, as I said earlier, it can cause death in young children, particularly those under five years of age,” he added.
He said even those who survive could end up with lower Intelligence Quotient (IQ) and impaired cognitive ability with resultant negative effects on their performance in school and productivity in later life.
The annual observation of the Nutrition Week, he noted, has been helping to create awareness regarding the importance of food and nutrition on child survival and its impact on development, productivity, economic growth and national development.
Previous editions have seen the launching and dissemination of a revised national policy on food and nutrition and the maiden edition of the Nigeria Nutrition Newsletter, as well as the investiture of the wives of the President and State Governors as nutrition ambassadors for the country and states, respectively.
This has not only helped to underscore the importance government places on the campaign against malnutrition, but, also, to mobilise support from state and local governments for the campaign.
The minister said the coming together of stakeholders on the platform this year was further proof of their collective commitment to ensure optimal nutritional status for all Nigerians.
He commended all concerned, including development partners, who have been supportive in championing the fight against malnutrition and its associated problems in the country.