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Wednesday, November 30, 2022

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‘Govt Must Improve Farm Access, Security to Combat Malnutrition’

Mr. Remmy Nweke, National Co-ordinator, Media Centre Against Child Malnutrition (MeCAM) has called on government at all levels in Nigeria to improve access to farm lands via improved security nationwide (boundary conflicts, herdsmen-farmer clash, terrorism, kidnapping and IDPs) to quickly address the rising tide of malnutrition in the country.

Speaking on the topic: The UN Decade of Action on Nutrition: Connecting the Dots for Nigeria during a webinar on the UN Decade, Nweke also listed other important factors such as increased health budget with emphasis on nutrition budget line, early approval and prompt release, review of School Feeding Programme and boosting small-holder farmers as part of the way forward on nutrition.

Others include:

  • Encourage nutrition-related dieting at all levels, Adequate data is essential for economic planning Insufficient target data to assess Nigeria’s progress
  • Further actions to be taken to strengthen effective and significance interventions should include government policies evolving: Both nutrition-specific and nutrition-sensitive investments, health-system and community levels
  • An inter-sectoral approach for achieving the 2025 target
  • In addition, there is need to partner non-state actors
  • Recognize donors and informal institutional networks (national, sub-national and community based) play critical roles in shaping policies
  • Implementing programmes and engagement of communities
  • Improve nutritional status of mothers, infants and young children
  • Reduce malnutrition in all its forms, while nutrition efforts must continue beyond 2025.

He listed the seven major classes of nutrients as carbohydrates, fats, dietary fiber, minerals, proteins, vitamins and water. He added that the underlying causes of malnutrition in Nigeria include poverty, inadequate food production, inadequate food intake, ignorance, uneven food distribution of food, poor food preservation techniques, improper preparation of foods, food restriction, taboos and poor sanitation.

Nweke warned that the United Nations (UN) was deeply concerned about nutrition due to rising negative figures such as:

  • 800 million chronically undernourished persons worldwide
  • 159 million stunted children under the age of 5
  • 50 million wasted children under the age of 5
  • 2 billion+ micronutrient deficiencies
  • 9 billion+ overweight adults
  • 600 million rising obesity

The UN therefore calls upon Member States, regional political and economic communities and the global community to translate the commitments made through the ICN2 Rome Declaration on Nutrition into SMART commitments for action, in the context of national nutrition and nutrition-related policies. The Commitments is managed jointly by the Secretariat of FAO/WHO.

The speaker said Nigeria’s progress report against 10 nutrition targets as recorded in 2019 was more or less dismal as follows:

  • Women of reproductive age: No Progress
  • Under 5 stunting: Some Progress
  • Under 5 overweight: On Course
  • Low birth weight: No Data
  • Adult male diabetes: No Progress/Worsening
  • Adult female diabetes: No Progress/Worsening
  • Adult male obesity: No Progress/Worsening
  • Adult female obesity: No Progress/Worsening
  • Exclusive breastfeeding: Some Progress

The Nutrition Decade aims to accelerate implementation of the commitmentsq made at the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2), achieve the global nutrition and diet-related NCDq targets by 2025; and contribute to the realisation of the Sustainableq Development Goals (SDG) by 2030 via Goal 2.

About the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition

The United Nations (UN) Decade of Action on Nutrition is a commitment by United Nations Member States to undertake some 10-year of sustained and coherent implementation of policies, programmes and increased investments to eliminate malnutrition in all its forms, everywhere, and leaving no one behind.

This follows the recommendation in the Rome Declaration, the United Nations (UN) Decade of Action on Nutrition (2016–2025) as declared by the UN General Assembly in April 2016. Thus offering a unique opportunity to all countries and stakeholders to unite around a common framework and to increase the visibility, coordination, efficiency and effectiveness of nutrition action at all levels across the world.

In order to manage a coordinated implementation of the United Nations Decade of Action on Nutrition (Nutrition Decade), the UN General Assembly mandated the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Health Organisation (WHO) to co-lead its implementation and to develop a work programme to this effect.

Till date only three countries have filed for commitment out of the 193 UN member states, but none from Africa.

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