By ADEBIYI ADEDAPO, Abuja
The minister of Health, Prof Isaac Adewole, Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, and development partners in the health sector yesterday urged the 36 states of the federation and the Federal Capital Territory, to increase funding for nutrition of children under the age of five years.
This is just as Dogara called for urgent steps to address malnutrition in Nigeria to reduce the alarming rate of maternal and child deaths recorded on its account, as well as the economic loss of US$1.5 billion.
The minister in his address during the opening ceremony of a two day National Conference on Promoting Maternal and Child Health Nutrition in Nigeria, expressed optimism that with political will, commitment of technical experts and robust implementation of programmes, the nutrition narrative of Nigeria will change for the better.
Represented by the director of Family Health in the Ministry, Mrs. Adebimpe Adebiyi, the minister noted that beyond reducing mortality rate, the benefits of investigating in nutrition are enormous.
He, however, hinted that the ministry is preparing a national nutrition project which will be financed with approximately $350 million from the World Bank, to enable the implementation of National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition.
Meanwhile, Dogara who was represented by the deputy minority Whip of the House, Hon. Binta Bello noted that legislators at all levels must play a vital role in curbing this scourge of malnutrition in the country.
The Speaker noted that the first role of the legislators is to make appropriate laws to guide policy makers in the health sector.
According to Dogara, the death and destruction of children associated with nutrition problems are not the only issues the Nigerian government has to worry about, there are severe economic consequences. Nigeria, for instance, is said to lose over US$1.5 billion in GDP to vitamin and mineral deficiencies with frightening projections of over 80,000 dying due to vitamin A deficiency.
To address malnutrition and control its drastic effects, the Speaker said it should be viewed as the foundation for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, while legislators take steps to ensure that appropriate laws are put in place to guide policy makers in the health sector.