The Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba, has called on all tiers of government to collaborate with the private sector and development partners in scaling up investment in nutrition noting that delay or failure in addressing malnutrition had high costs in terms of higher budget outlay as well as lost GDP and “this makes investment in nutrition a must do.”
The Minister made this call at the joint Ministerial press briefing/flag off of Nutrition week 2020, held recently, in Abuja.
Agba stated that despite concerted efforts by the government in recent years, particularly in the areas of child nutrition and breastfeeding, malnutrition had remained a challenge and that must be addressed through implementation of innovative policies and strategies that were appropriately funded, data driven, sustainable and optimized in terms of transparency and accountability for the efforts to yield the desired results.
He assured that President Buhari’s administration was committed to the eradication of malnutrition through the adoption and domestication of policies and costed strategic plans, which emphasizes increased reliance on domestic funding; as well as a well-coordinated multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholders’ approach backed by sustained high-level political commitment.
The Minister however regretted that 2.5 million Nigerian children under the age of 5 years suffer from acute malnutrition, which was quite worrisome and called for urgent measures to reverse the trend.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary Budget and National planning, Mrs. Olusola Idowu, in her opening remarks stated that the purpose of the campaign was to address nutrition issues affecting young children, adolescents, adults and elderly as well as nutrition issues in emerging situation.
According to her, “this year’s Nutrition week edition is aimed at increasing commitment to nutrition among the relevant stakeholders and the benefits of healthy living through dietary diversification using locally available food as a result of Covid 19 global pandemic across the country, since at the moment, there is no cure.”
She assured an effective and a coordinated over sight role towards prioritization of nutrition specific and sensitive interventions at national and sub-national levels in order to reduce the burden of malnutrition in the country.
In his presentation, the Nutrition Technical Adviser, Mr. Bamidele Davis Omotola, explained how nutrition could help in the fight against Covid – 19 and the need for good advocacy for good nutrition for mothers and children who died young from illnesses related to malnutrition and for those who survived.
He posited that investing in nutrition was critical to sustain Nigeria’s collective future.
Victoria Agba Attah,