By Gabriel Olawale
The Lagos State First Lady, Dr. Ibijoke Sanwo-Olu has made a passionate appeal to the State Executive Council for prompt approval and implementation of state policy on food and nutrition as well as a multi-sectoral plan of action for nutrition.
Sanwo-Olu who spoke last week at the Nutrition Policy Dialogue and Revalidation of State-Specific Nutrition Policy and Strategic Plan of Action said the approval and implantation of the policy would ensure equal access to food and nutrition that would eventually translate to high quality of life and socio-economic development.
Sanwo-Olu who was represented by the Medical Director of Massey Children’s Hospital, Dr. Cecilia Mabogunje, said that both the national and state indicators show that more needed to be done in respect of food and nutrition of citizen.
“According to UNICEF, Nigeria has the second-highest number of stunted children in the world with the national prevalence rate of 32 percent among under-fives.
About 2 million children in Nigeria suffer from acute malnutrition but only two out of every10 children are currently reached with treatment.
“As a matter of fact, wasting among under-five children was 11.4 percent in 2017 while undernutrition was 14.5 percent. The implication is that, undernutrition reduces economic advancement of a nation by 8 percent due to direct productivity losses and poor school performance.”
Further, she noted: “It is clear that any nation with high burden of malnutrition will find it difficult to break out of poverty and sustain economic advancement.
“This is why the development of Lagos State policy on food and nutrition with the goal of attaining optimal status for all Lagos residence with emphasis on most vulnerable groups is a step in the right direction.”
Lending her voice during a dialogue organised by the Lagos State Committee on Food and Nutrition in conjunction with Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, Executive Secretary of CS-SUNN, Mrs. Beatrice Eluaka urged state policymakers to make smart and implantable commitment towards improving the nutritional status of Lagosians.
Eluaka also appeals to the policymakers to revalidate the Lagos state nutrition policy and strategic plan of action, “we are a non-for-profit organisation with the mandate of contributing to improving the nutritional status of Nigerians.
“Our current project is to strengthen the system to make them more result-oriented, effective, efficient, and transparent. Part of our object is to help the state come up with a specific nutrition policy plan of action for implementation.
She commended Lagos state for being among the states that have to develop policy and plan of action, “this was some years and as we speak, the policy is yet to be approved by the state executive council. So we are calling on them to approve and implement the plan.
On her part, the Lagos State Coordinator of CS-SUNN, Dr. Modupe Akinyinka praised Lagos State for being the first state in Nigeria to give mothers six months’ maternity leave and two weeks to their father to help them assist mothers.
She hinted that complementary feeding for children in Lagos state is about 16 percent which means that most children are not getting a minimum diet for them to be properly feed through that complementary stage of six months to two years.
“Wasting rate in Lagos was still about 6.6 per cent, if you translate it to number more than 24,000 children are wasted which means they are unable to do what the child should be doing. Stunting is about 11.4 percent which translates to about 44,000 children that are stunted in Lagos state. The problem with stunted is that they are not only short but also affect their cognitive function.
“The good news is that solution has already been brought up which is a Lagos State Policy on Food and Nutrition because if we look at the cost of treating acute malnutrition, it is better to prevent it through this policy.