Civil Societies Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, (CS-SUNN), a Non governmental organization has urged the Nigerian government to improve on nutrition for growth and development.
The Secretary General of CS-SUNN, Mrs Beatrice Eluaka, made the call at the Project Inception Media Roundtable on the Partnership for Improving Nigeria Nutrition Systems (PINNS), in Abuja.
She said that malnutrition remains a key contributor to infant and maternal mortality and morbidity, poor cognitive development, increased severity of diseases which adversely affects productivity in Nigeria.
“According to the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2013, more than 5 million new-borns in Nigeria lack essential nutrients and antibodies that would protect them from diseases and death as they are not being exclusively breastfed. The National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS) 2014, puts Exclusive Breastfeeding rate in Nigeria at 25%. Also, the 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) puts stunting rate at 43.6% as against 32.9% in 2015, wasting in 2017 at 10.8% as against 7.2% in 2015 and Underweight at 31.5% in 2017 as against 19.4% in 2015.
These negative results indicate an alarming rising trend in Nigeria’s malnutrition burden which will continue to further impede the nation’s economic development if not checked as globally, stunting is currently an indicator for measuring a country’s development”, She said.
The Secretary General also said that the Nigerian Nutrition Sector continues to be bedeviled by numerous challenges such as ineffective coordination of nutrition activities and actors at the national and sub-national levels, inadequate fund allocations and releases for planned implementation of annual workplans geared towards nutrition interventions, lack of visibility of nutrition issues, translation and effective dissemination of research to evidence to spur decision making and informed action in Nigeria.
“Low uptake of preventive measures for combating malnutrition such as: Exclusive breastfeeding and optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices in the country. Lack of transparency of government to fund allocations, disbursement and judicious utilization of such funds and its inability to keep to national and international commitments for funding nutrition. Civil Society Organizations capacity for sustained advocacy is still low due to inadequate advocacy skills and organizational capacity to attract funds for activities. These challenges should be a wake- up call for Government at all levels and relevant stakeholders to scale up and smoothen operations in provision of nutrition-related and health interventions across the country”, She stated.
Mrs Eluaka noted that to tackle the challenges, consultations between a Donor/CS-SUNN birthed the Partnership for Improving Nigeria Nutrition Systems (PINNS).
“The project is targeted at strengthening the Nigeria nutrition systems to be more Result-driven, Effective, Serviceable, Efficient and Transparent (RESET) in delivering on their mandate. It is also aimed at holding government accountable on commitments made to allocate, release and use transparently funds for implementation of high impact Nutrition interventions in Nigeria through evidence-based advocacy”, She added.
While giving an over view of the PINNS, the Project Manager, Mr Okoronkwo Sunday, said that the project will contribute to a reduction in malnutrition particularly among women and children in Nigeria.
“PINNS is focused on strengthening governance, policy implementation, effective coordination, financing, building the capacity of state actors, generation and effective communication of evidence as promoting accountability”, he explained.
The Civil Society Scaling -Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) therefore urge the media to step up reportage of nutrition issues to attract policy makers and concerned stakeholders to take the right steps that will curb malnutrition in Nigeria.
Adding that no state in the country is free of nutrition issues.