By Felicia Imohimi
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of Federal Ministry of Information and Culture have identified improved investment in nutrition as a tool to fast track national and human development.
Mr Olumide Osanyipeju, Head CRIB of the ministry, disclosed this on Wednesday at a media dialogue on child malnutrition in North-East, held in Yola with the theme: “Investing in Malnutrition for the Future”.
The dialogue was organised by UNICEF, in collaboration with the CRIB.
Osanyipeju noted that improved nutrition could be achieved by educating the populace and creating a positive approach towards nutrition.
According to him, malnutrition is a large burden to a country and tackling malnutrition entails empowering and educating people.
He further identified nutrition as the surest way to the attainment of sustainable development goals (SDGs), adding that investment in nutrition would help in reducing the negative trend of malnutrition.
He said: “It is imperative to combat malnutrition because it can cause death in young children particularly those under five years.
“There should be concerted efforts to fight malnutrition out in totality to ensure the attainment of desired results.”
Osanyipeju advocated improved investment in child malnutrition for the future, raising awareness and understanding of the problem of malnutrition in Nigeria and resource allocation for food security and nutrition at all levels.
“The strategic objectives of improving food security at national, community and household levels is to reduce malnutrition among infants and children, adolescents and women of reproductive age.
“It will significantly reduce micro-nutrient deficiency disorders, especially among the vulnerable group and to increase the knowledge of nutrition among the populace and education in formal and informal training.
“There is need for investment in child malnutrition for the future, raising awareness and understanding on the problem of malnutrition in Nigeria and resource allocation for food and nutrition security at all levels,” he said.
In his own contribution, the Head of CRIB commended the constant support of the media and other stakeholders in ensuring that the well-being of children was promoted through the various interventions and continuous dialogues.
He further commended the collaborative efforts of DFID and the Federal Ministry of Health at addressing the nation’s nutrition challenges.
“We highly acknowledge your priceless contributions toward promoting the health of Nigerian mothers and children and in ensuring that the goal of the health strategies targeted at them are met through constant dialogues.”
According to him, it is necessary to create awareness among Nigerian populace, especially for lactating and non-lactating mothers, to give children breast milk exclusively within the first six months which is enough for infants, stressing that nutrition is key to development.
“Adequate attention should be given to the nutrition of women, especially pregnant women to reduce severe acute malnutrition.
“Let us share the vision to see that every citizen has food that is nutrition secured by mobilising people at the grassroots level to know their rights with regard to food by involving policy makers.
“Journalists should come together in leadership to take actions on malnutrition for a better growth and well nourished Nigeria in future,” he said.
On his part, Mr Geoffrey Njoku, UNICEF Communication Specialist, attributed the malnutrition situation in North-East geo-political zone to humanitarian crisis.
Njoku, who described the burden as an emergency situation, said there was need to raise awareness on what the children in the geo-political zones were going through and measures to address it.
Mr Samuel Kaalu, UNICEF Communication Officer, Bauchi Field Office, said the dialogue was aimed at acquainting the media on malnutrition situations in Nigeria, specifically in north-east geo-political zone and for them to use their various platforms to address the burden.
Kaalu emphasised that the feat could be achieved through media advocacy and holding government accountable to their promises through improved investment, timely releases of allocated resources and implementation of action plans to meet the set goals.
Kaalu, however, said the media could fast track improved nutrition and well-being of the populace.