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Prevention, a better option to address malnutrition in Nigeria – Nutrition experts



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Nutrition stakeholders have agreed that prevention, is key to attaining optimal nutritional status in the country.

At a technical consultation workshop to operationalise actions on implementation of Nigeria roadmap to reduce wasting, they stressed the need for Nigerians to have access to healthy diets and at an appropriate time especially children below the age of five to reduce malnutrition.

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The two-day workshop was organised by the National Council on Nutrition in collaboration with USAID Advancing Nutrition in Abuja.

Representatives from the government and private sector attended the workshop including nutrition partners and local producers of Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF).

Speaking, the Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition Advisor, USAID Advancing Nutrition Project in Nigeria, Pauline Adah, noted that the workshop is targeted at providing opportunity for stakeholders to understand the ongoing strategies for the prevention and treatment of wasting, develop prioritise actions to operationalise the Nigerian roadmap and also to define innovative and sustainable methods of strengthening local productions of nutrition products like the RUTF.

She said “This technical workshop is borne out of one of our earlier workshop on wasting this year in the month of June, from that workshop we have been able to refer back to Nigeria Global Action Plan for wasting to see and strategies on ways to increase the coverage of treatment for wasting.

“The essence of this workshop is to bring together nutrition stakeholders skills and analyse the nutrition status of children in Nigeria in terms of wasting, look back to the Global Action Plan put together years back and see what implementation is working right now and where do we need to strengthen to improve wasting treatment coverage in Nigeria to hit that target. The target is that, by the year 2025, the treatment coverage of wasting would have been up to 50%”, She noted.

Also, the Chairman Technical Advisory Group of National Council of Nutrition (NCN), Prof Kola Matthew Anigo expressed concern that Nigerian children are dying from wasting daily.

“When a child us wasted, the chances of dying is very high.
The aspect to address the problem is more or less focused on the aspect of treatment and like they say, prevention is better than cure.

“If we must achieve the SDG 2030 and World Health Assembly 2025 target, then we have to refocus and repriortise our policy, to ensure that we are not just focusing on treatment but also on prevention”, he added.

He also stressed the need for collaboration of relevant stakeholders in the sector for the operationalisation of this Global Action Plan and the country roadmap to aid prevention and treatment of malnutrition.

According to him “The government must take leadership, the government must take it as a responsibility. The government cannot do it alone, that is the reality but they must take the lead.

“As the government show commitment definitely the partners and the other stakeholders like the private sector will also key into what the government is doing because one of the greatest problem is the issue of fragmented actions being taken here and there including the partners, but if the government shows serious commitment and focus, even those partners will also be brought online.

“Another thing is the issue of inadequate funding, there is need for serious commitment in terms of funding. The issue of transparency and accountability is also a critical issue. And again critical is the aspect of monitoring, we need to be able to monitor to evaluate what is being done, and we also account and from there we can learn and use that to correct whatever issue we have and move ahead.

The Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Nutrition, Abimbola Adesanmi pointed out that the National Food Consumption record of wasting increased to 11.6% compare to 2018 where it was 7%. She said the country’s target is to ensure it drops to 5%.

The presidential aide however stressed the need for sensitization in ensuring that the masses are aware of the danger of malnutrition.

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