Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre, Auwal Musa has raised the alarm that Nigeria is facing a serious nutrition crisis.
Also speaking , Chairman, Senate Committee on Health, Ibrahim Oloriegbe, has said six million children are malnourished in Nigeria, two million severely acute malnourished and four million moderately malnourished.
Musa said this in Lagos, during a campaign launch and media roundtable with the theme; “Fortifying Nigeria’s Future: Promoting Fortification Compliance and Workforce Nutrition in Nigeria.”
The campaign launch was organised by CISLAC in collaboration with National Economic Summit Group (NESG) and E-Health.
He said “millions of Nigerians are undernourished, and many more are overweight or obese.
“This has a devastating impact on health, productivity, and economic development. According to the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2022, 44.1 per cent of children under the age of five in Nigeria are stunted, meaning they are too short for their age.
“This is a decrease from 46.0 per cent in 2018, but it is still a high number. The NDHS also found that 20.3 per cent of children under the age of five in Nigeria are wasted, meaning they are too thin for their height.
“Food fortification is a proven way to improve nutrition and health. It is a simple, cost-effective intervention that can be used to add essential nutrients to foods that are commonly consumed by large populations.”
While urging food producers to help promote food fortification and workforce nutrition in Nigeria, he urged organisations across the country to take the issues of workforce nutrition more seriously as to improve the productivity of their employees by implementing the following measures.
While calling on the Federal Government to enforce food fortification policy that is already in existence, Oloriegbe said lack of regulatory framework to sanction compliance to food fortification hampers effort by various regulatory agencies to enforce fortification as an imminent strategy to mitigate micronutrient deficiency and improve micro-nutrition supply in food consumptions.
Oloriegbe spoke on the theme, saying, “The rate of hunger in the country, malnutrition and lack of nutrients is worrisome.
“Wasting is the most common in children; about 35 per cent of children under- five are malnutrition. Six million children are malnourished in Nigeria while two million are severely acute malnourished, four million is moderately malnourished.
“Either of them are mostly wasting and stunting with complication. When we talk about severe acute malnutrition, these are kind children who are wasted, moribund and have superior test complications.
“What this means is that even if they survive from complications, they are not likely to develop enough brains to become productive or achieve their potential.”
On his part, President Nutrition Association of Nigeria, Prof Afolabi Wasiu said, “Food fortification remains a proven strategy to address the growing severe micro-nutrient deficiency and other malnutrition-imposed physical and cognitive challenges at all levels.”
“Micro nutrient deficiency manifests in iron deficiency, gloitre prevalence and zinc deficiency.”
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