Chijioke Agwu, Abakaliki
Over hundred and twenty women of child-bearing age drawn from various communities in Ohaukwu Local Government Area of Ebonyi state have recently received free nutrition and dietetics counselling from the Dietitians Association of Nigeria (DAN) of the Alex Ekwueme Federal University Teaching Hospital, Abakaliki (AE-FUTHA), Ebonyi state.
The free nutrition counselling took place as part of activities marking the 2020 World Dietitians Day in the state.
Addressing stakeholders and women who came out for the exercise, leader of the team of dietician-nutritionists to the outreach, Mrs. Lynda Okpara, noted that good nutrition is an important part of a healthy life.
She explained that the outreach was to help women especially those who were still bearing children to know the kinds of food they should be eating to help them conceive easily and for the healthy growth of the pregnancy through delivery time.
She urged them to imbibe the habit of good dieting; stressing that good food at the right time and the right quantity help to reduce risk of obesity and some chronic diseases such as cancer.
Okpara also enjoined them to always consult professional dietician-nutritionists to advise them on the kinds, times and quantity of foods to eat, maintaining that most of the health challenges women have often come from eating wrong foods at the wrong time.
According to her, “Healthy diet promotes healthy pregnancy outcomes, supports normal growth, development and ageing. It also helps to maintain a healthy body weight and reduces the risks of chronic diseases leading to overall health and well-being.”
Okpara further explained that the association chose Ohaukwu for the outreach because of the prevalence of malnutrition in infants and children in the council area.
Wife of the council boss, Mrs. Chinenye Odah, in her remarks, thanked the association for choosing her council and expressed the optimism that the lessons of the outreach will go a long way in helping women in the area especially those within child bearing age to eat well and live well.
Earlier in her welcome address, Chairman of Dietitians Association of Nigeria in the state, Ihuoma Utom, lamented that the profession has been infiltrated by quacks, causing more harm than good to the profession and the society in general.
She warned Nigerians against patronizing unprofessional dietitians saying that they offer more deaths and health problems than life.
She explained that the upsurge in the incidence and prevalence of diet related non-communicable chronic diseases in the World (NCDs) has increased public awareness and interest in human nutrition.
Utom listed some of the diet-related non-communicable diseases to include obesity, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, cancer, osteoporosis and dental disease.
She commended the management of the hospital for its support to the department but called on it to provide the department with a vehicle to enable them take the message of nutrition to the grassroots.
Established in 2001 in the then Federal Medical Centre (FMC) Abakaliki, the department of nutrition and dietetics in AE-FUTHA today has 22 dietitians consisting of 21 females and one male; in addition to 83 interns.