World Health Day: Experts task FG on access to affordable, quality foods

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Some medical experts have called on the Federal Government to intensify efforts to address the hunger in the country and ensure access to affordable and quality foods for healthy living of the citizens.

The medical experts made the call in interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in commemoration of the 2024 World Health Day ( WHD) on Sunday in Lagos.

NAN reports the WHD is celebrated annually on April 7 to commemorate the anniversary of the founding of the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1948.

The theme for 2024 WHD is: “My Health, My Right”.

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This year’s theme was chosen to champion the right of everyone, everywhere to have access to health services, education, and information, as well as safe drinking water, clean air, good nutrition, quality housing, decent working and environmental conditions, and freedom from discrimination.

Speaking, a Consultant Cardiologist, Dr Ramon Moronkola, said to ensure a healthy living, food should be taken in a right proportion of both quality and quantity.

Moronkola, who works with the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), said there was amount of food that the body needed to sustain growth and development both in children and adults.

According to him, access to good quality balanced diet is key to health of the citizens, saying that the government should endeavour to increase the purchasing power to enable people afford good quality foods as well as balanced diet at all times.

“The WHO has mentioned access to good nutrition as part of the key components of WHD celebration.

“The quantity and quality of food effect brain development as a child grows; a child that is deprived of protein, can develop different kinds of malnutrition disease like kwashiorkor.

“Even for adults, the quantity and quality of food to be taken are very important. If an individual takes a balanced diet with more intake of fruits and vegetables in right proportion, it helps to prevent diabetes, hypertension and even development of cardiovascular diseases.

“And it is very important to talk about this because the economic hardship we are seeing recently is really making it difficult for people to have access to good nutrition. People don’t have access to food because food is expensive.

“Is it someone that has not been able to afford the basic food, that will now be talking about ensuring consumption of fruits and vegetables?.

“So, the government should be bordered about the low purchasing power of the people and seek for ways to increase it so that people can afford good quality meals.

Moronkola, therefore, urged the government to ensure that all supports given to the farmers were properly utilised.

According to him, the government should ensure that farmers have access to good seeds and products that will yield abundant harvest in terms of quality and quantity of the produce.

“Government has a role to play in ensuring that food is available.

“Government will do this by ensuring that wherever the food is coming from, be it from the farm, it should be able to intervene.

“Because the health implication is that when people develop infections and diseases from abnormal food intake, the country will end up having diseased population; which will invariably overwhelm our health system,” Moronkola said.

Speaking, a Medical Imaging Scientist, Dr Livinus Abonyi, said that terrorism and poor regulated economy were the threatening factors to achieving food security in the country.

Abonyi, a Lecturer at the Lagos State College of Medicine, said the economy has been poorly regulated, which he said, has resulted to ineffective management of the Nigerian financial system.

This, Abonyi said, has led to the free fall and near worthless value of the naira which has led to uncontrollable inflation.

Abonyi said: “To ensure food security in a vast and endowed country like Nigeria requires addressing two key factors ravaging the system.

“Major factors are terrorism and armed banditry. This particular factors are responsible for sacking most farmers from their farmlands, while others were killed and could not tell the story by themselves.

“Another crucial factor is the ineffective management of the Nigeria financial system.

“The cost of transportation is currently a factor in the movement of goods and services in Nigeria.

“It, therefore, implies that movement of farm produce where farmers have weathered the storm to farm, against the threat of terrorists, kidnappers and bandits, has become a debilitating challenge”.

He decried that high cost of transportation was responsible for the hike in the prices of food commodities across the country.

He emphasised that the solution to the hunger and other challenges in the land depended on restoring security of the country.

According to him, there is no justification for government’s intervention in form of loan, fertilizer provision or inputs of any kind into agriculture when security of life and properties of those that would work on the farms cannot be assured.

“Security has to be ensured for the economy to thrive.

“Food production is a key component of the economy. If Nigeria is to depend more on importation of food products in order to feed the citizens, then, anarchy is considered inevitable,” Abonyi said.(NAN)

By Lillian Okoro

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