By Chioma Obinna
Amidst the disruption caused by COVID-19 across all sectors, Civil Society- Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, has expressed displeasure over what they described as slow pace of government interventions geared towards better nutrition goals.
Executive Secretary, Beatrice Eluaka, at a one-day media roundtable on Micro-nutrient Deficiency Control in Nigeria a” stressed the need for better implementation and funding strategies.
Eluaka said a stronger political will and commitment on the part of government was required to deliver the gains of micronutrient-focused programmes in Lagos state and other states of the federation.
“We are not oblivious of strategies and guidelines put in place by Federal Government to address the burden of micronutrient deficiencies. The strategies include, Vitamin A supplementation, zinc supplementation, micronutrient powders, Iron-folic acid supplementation, nutrition education on Bio-fortified foods and the national guideline on micronutrient deficiency control.
She further called on the three tiers of government to evaluate various programmes addressing micronutrient deficiency to provide valuable insight on their progress and effectiveness as well as a roadmap on future priorities.
According to her, there was need to scale-up provision of basic package of nutrition services across Primary Health care centres in Nigeria.
‘Massive sensitisation, education and awareness creation will provoke behavioural changes that will promote optimal Infant and Young Child feeding practices in communities in Lagos is critical to combating the micronutrient deficiencies menace. This include early Initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months of life and adequate complementary feeding.
She said, Additionally, provision of routine services in Primary Health Care centers will promote distribution of Micronutrient powder, Iron/Folic Acid supplements and Zinc including Vitamin A supplementation for Pregnant Women and Children respectively. We call on state governments including the Lagos state government to scale-up not only the provision and distribution of these supplements to hard- to- reach areas and across health facilities during the MNCH week, but also counseling to ensure compliance.
“We urge Lagos residents and Nigerians to diversify their diet and to ensure adequate nutrition by consuming a wide range of foods, including vegetables, proteins and fruits to improve their nutritional status.
“CS-SUNN remains committed to advancing Nigeria’s MNDC and food fortification agenda for improved nutritional status of women, children and vulnerable groups.
“The alliance supported a stakeholders meeting where a roadmap for the review of the country’s existing MNDC guidelines was developed and commitment generated by partners to fund the roadmap. The alliance also underscores the importance of coordination among Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) delivering micronutrient-entrenched interventions.
“In line with this, CS-SUNN also supported some state committees on food and nutrition including the Lagos State Committee on food and nutrition to develop and cost their plans. We urge the state government to approve the state multi-sectoral plan of action for Nutrition currently before the state executive council.”
She commended the Lagos state government for creating budget lines for nutrition in 10 (ten) line ministries and releases even as she advocated the need for timely releases of these funds to enable effective implementation and delivery of targets.