From Sola Ojo, Kaduna
Civil Society- Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD), have jointly expressed worry over the rate of micronutrient deficiency (MND) form of malnutrition among Nigerians, especially under-five children.
Civil Society- Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) is Scaling Up Nutrition Civil Society Alliance (SUN CSA) in Nigeria which was established in 2013 with guidance from the global Civil Society Network (CSN), meant to bring together non-state actors in Nigeria to jointly advocate and engage to scale up nutrition interventions in the fight against malnutrition.
The Executive Secretary, CS-SUNN, Beatrice Eluaka, told journalists at a roundtable discussion in Kaduna that the burden of malnutrition has remained a great source of concern particularly in developing countries, including Nigeria where MND affects about 2 billion people globally.
“Nigeria has an alarming prevalence of micronutrient deficiencies that have persisted over the decades, she said.
MND is a major public health problem caused by a lack of essential vitamins and minerals in diets, which the body requires in very small amounts to survive and thrive. Micro-nutrients include minerals and vitamins and play crucial roles in human nutrition including prevention and treatment of various diseases.
According to her, adequate intake of micronutrients particularly iron, vitamin A, iodine, zinc from conception to age 24 months is critical for child growth and mental development.
She further lamented that the COVID-19 pandemic has some implications for those most vulnerable to micronutrient deficiencies as well as the essential nutrition services that prevent the devastating effects of malnutrition.
“The COVID-19 pandemic may result in significant short- and long-term disruptions to food systems, increasing and complicating the global prevalence of all forms of malnutrition, including MND”, she said.
She, therefore, called on governments at all levels to evaluate various programmes addressing micronutrients deficiencies in the country to provide valuable insight on their progress and effectiveness as well as a roadmap on future priorities.
Deputy Director, All Family Health Department, FMOH, John Uruakpa agreed that the public health significance of MND in Nigeria was severe.
To him, more investment was required in the area of micronutrient deficiency control by
Government and collaborating partners while the media creates awareness, sensitization and educating the public about the scourge should not be overemphasized.
“There is the need for development and implementation of policies and programmes that favours procurement and availability of MNDC commodities such as vitamin A, iron folate, and micronutrient powders (MNP) used in the prevention of micronutrient deficiencies.
On his part, the representative of FMARD, Adanlawo Julius told journalists that, his ministry is working with local farmers to include these essential nutrients in farm produce so every household can have access to it.