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Malnutrition Killing Nigeria’s Children Silently – Budget Minister Cries Out

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Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba

..Says Delay In Addressing Malnutrition Will Impact GDP Negatively

…As Nutritionist Decry 2.5Million Lives Wasted To Malnutrition

By Matthew Ogune, Abuja
The Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, has disclosed that about 50percent of Nigeria’s children were dying silently as a result of malnutrition.

“Nigeria’s food and nutrition situation and the attendant poor global image in terms of economic and development milestones are major concerns to the Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning.

“This, among others, necessitated the desire to carry out a week-long “Nutrition Campaign Week” conceived to serve as a platform for mobilizing nutrition stakeholders towards addressing the challenge of malnutrition, which has been termed “the silent killer.”

Agba said on Monday in Abuja during a Joint Ministerial Press Briefing to Flag-Off the 2020 Nutrition week With theme: “Nutrition the Bedrock for Economic Development”.

According to the Minister, failure in addressing malnutrition has high costs in term of higher budget outlay as well as lost Gross Domestic Product (GDP) which he said makes investment in nutrition a must do.

Agba regretted that, despite concerted efforts by the government in recent years, particularly in the areas of child nutrition and breastfeeding, malnutrition have remained a challenge which must be addressed through the implementation of innovative policies and strategies that are appropriately funded, data-driven, sustainable and optimized in terms of transparency and accountability for the efforts to yield the desired results.

He maintained that the nation must also continue to work collaboratively across all levels of governments, and hand-in-hand with the private sector and development partners to tackle the menace.

Agba said that the menace has been further accentuated by the new global normal occasioned by the outbreak of COVD-19 pandemic with its attendant economic impact leading to food insecurity.

He continued: “Nigeria is reported to have the second highest burden of stunted children in the world, with an estimated 2.5 million children under the age of 5 years suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). This is quite worrisome and calls for urgent measures to reverse the trend.

“Over the years, this week-long annual event has proved to be a veritable platform for intensifying awareness on the importance of food and nutrition on child survival and its impact on development, productivity, economic growth and national development. This can be attested to by some of the achievements recorded in the past editions of the programme.

“Research has shown that investments in nutrition prevent undernutrition, build human capital, boost shared prosperity and improve health outcomes.

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“Under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari, Nigeria has shown a clear commitment to the eradication of malnutrition through the adoption and domestication of policies and costed strategic plans, which emphasizes increased reliance on domestic funding; and a well-coordinated multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholders’ approach backed by sustained high-level political commitment.

‘This is evident in Nigeria’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (2017-2020), a medium-term strategic plan aimed at investing in our people, diversifying the economy and restoring growth, which places critical emphasis on strategic multi-sectoral interventions to address food security and malnutrition.

“Owing to the importance the current administration places on child survival, nutrition is one of the key thematic areas in the Medium-Term National Development Plans (MTNDP 2021-2025 & 2026-2030) and the Nigeria Agenda 2050 presently being developed by our Ministry.

“Our emphasis has been on protecting the economy and funding the country’s healthcare needs with the COVID-19 response spurring necessary transformation and innovation in the fiscal space and beyond.”

Dr. Omotola Bamidele Davis a nutrition adviser in abuja for Nutrition International while delivering a lecture, titled : ‘How Nutrition can help in fighting Covid19’ said that aside from committing a crime and been given a jail time, Nigerian children are already imprisoned for life as a result of lack of nutrition.

According to him Nigeria contributes about 9.2 percent of stunted children globally, with more than 2.5million children been wasted yearly.

Omotola urged the Federal Government to grant access to people on safe Nutrition foods, particularly for young children.

He further called on government to monitor the food system in the country and make sure what they produce is safe and affordable for the people hence the raise of food inflation in the country.

He also urged Nigerians to patronise locally made food.

Omotola stressed the need for key sectors to partner effectively with the health, the agricultural sectors, WASH and others for improvement in the system, adding that all sectors could function effectively with adequate funding annually to the MSPA FN as part of the ongoing strategy to economy recovery.

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