By Chioma Obinna
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, CISLAC, has called on President Muhammed Buhari to invest more in agricultural production with a view to reducing the high rate of malnutrition among Nigerian children and women of reproductive age in the country.
The stakeholders also raised alarm that government has not significantly contributed to the reduction of undernutrition at the rate needed to meet the national development goals. Making these calls in Lagos at a one –day Media Capacity Building Workshop in Lagos, the group maintained that agriculture has remained at a small-scale at subsistence level and largely dependent on rainfall in Nigeria.
“The food distribution system in Nigeria remains largely inefficient due to crop seasonality, inadequate storage technology and facilities, transport and distribution systems and market information. All of these result in considerable spatial and seasonal variation in food production and availability, and are responsible for the considerable variations in food prices across the country. ”
In a 10 –point communiqué issued at the end of the workshop, participants noted that while adequate food and optimum nutrition status are the foundation for building healthy and secured society, Nigeria is confronted with high level of malnutrition burden arising from food insecurity, inadequate care, and outrageous socio-cultural practices.
They called for urgent attention to the increasing level of malnutrition in the country as malnutrition reduces economic advancement of a nation by at least 8 percent. “As malnutrition remains the major cause of under-five deaths, children from the poorest economic quartile are the most vulnerable to high level malnutrition burden at all levels.
They further called for implementation of the National Health Act, adding that “So far, various introduced national and international programmes and policies on health have witnessed poor implementation leading to inadequate access to healthcare across the country.
“Delay in the domestication and implementation of the 2014 National Health Act, inadequate budgetary allocation to health sector, over-concentration of healthcare facility in urban areas at the expense of rural counterparts, poor monitoring and lack of judicious utilisation of the existing funds has hampered accountability, and effective provision and distribution of health facilities across the country,” they added.