FG, UNICEF, others launch action plan to tackle malnutrition

The Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning in collaboration with the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), on Thursday in Abuja, launched a five-year action plan to tackle malnutrition in the country.

The plan titled: ”National Multi-sectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition” was launched as part of activities to commemorate the 2021 Nutrition week sensitisation of MDAs officers on nutrition awareness.

Mrs Chito Nelson, a Deputy Director at the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, said that the essence of the event was to create awareness on the issues of nutrition.

She said that the high indices of malnutrition in the country were worrisome and that it was important to reverse the trend.

According to her, the National Demographic and Health Survey of 2019 reports that exclusive breastfeeding in the country is low as the survey recorded only 29 per cent compliance.

She added that the high rate of stunted and malnourished children would be reduced when women comply with exclusive breastfeeding.

Nelson, while stressing the need for Nigerians to plant what they eat, added that it would protect their bodies and improve their health.

“Bio-diversification is still also very poor, our meals are also very monotonous, people should try  to diversify their diets.

“People should at least eat from the food groups, ensuring that vegetables and fruits are part of what is consumed.

“We are encouraging people to diversify because of what they will gain from these foods, having adequate diets,” she said.

She added that the Federal Government would continue to encourage Nigerians to plant vegetables and fruits around their homes, so as to have easy access to nutritional foods.

Dr Michael Ojo, Country Director, GAIN, said that the launch of the action plan was coming at the right time as it would go a long way in tackling malnutrition in the country. 

Ojo, who was represented by Joyce Akpata, Head of Policy and Advocacy, GAIN, added that the media should also use their platforms to advocate for the promotion of healthy diets.

“The National Multi-sectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition, if properly implemented, will indeed drive the coordination efforts.

“Because it seeks to drive and guide actions that will direct all international programmes and activities focused on reducing hunger and malnutrition in Nigeria.

“For NMPFAN to achieve its objectives of reversing malnutrition, partnership is very crucial, between the government Ministries, Departments and agencies, Academia, Local NGOs, International Development partners and Donors.

“But I will argue that the role and capacity of the Federal ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning must be strengthened to achieve this,” Ojo said.

Mrs Nkeiruka Enwelum, Nutrition Officer, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), urged all sectors to create a new narrative about nutrition in the country.

“For a long time, nutrition has been seen as the job of one sector, but with the new evidence that we have now, it can be seen that nutrition is not only the job of the health sector, it is also not only the job of the agricultural sector.

“It is the job of all sectors, individuals and all partners together, this partnership is essential for us to create a new narrative for nutrition.

“This new narrative will help us to be able to send the right messages out there and also to drive actions and commitments towards improved nutrition,” she said. 

NAN reports that the event had representatives from Ministry of Health, Ministry of Information and Culture, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, UNICEF, among others in attendance.(NAN)