By Jonathan Nda – Isaiah
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has inaugurated the National Council on nutrition which is expected to spearhead and oversee the federal government’s interventions in addressing Nigeria’s nutritional challenges.
This is even as the Zamfara State governor, Abdulaziz Yari disclosed that Nigeria is second behind India in malnutrition in the world.
In his remarks, Osinbajo said the policy, if fully implemented, will ensure significant improvements in several specific national indices, including the reduction of stunting in under-5 children, reduction of wasting in children, reduction of anaemia in pregnant women, reduction in adult obesity rates, and an increase in the rates of exclusive breastfeeding.
More than any other government in Nigeria’s history,he contended the administration has demonstrated its seriousness about catering to the needs of the most vulnerable of our population.
According to him,one of the primary manifestations of this commitment to the vulnerable is the government ‘s Social Investment Programme, comprising a School Feeding Programme for public primary schools, a Micro-credit scheme for small business people, a Conditional Cash Transfer scheme, and a Jobs programme for unemployed graduates.
He said, the School Feeding Programme, which directly seeks to improve the nutrition of primary school children, is now active in 19 States of the country, providing one meal a day to 5million.
He added that the target is 5.5million children before the end of the year pointing out that at the beginning of December, they intend to carry out a mass deworming exercise on the back of the School Feeding Programme.
The vice president said it is clear that there is a strong connection between nutrition and economic growth even as he noted that If the government invest in improved nutrition for the people,they will see the results not only in improved emotional and psychological satisfaction in the citizens, but also in reduced healthcare costs and increased economic productivity.
“But the Government cannot fund this by itself. The private sector, civil society, and international community must all play a key role in helping mobilize financial and logistical resources, and in helping ensure transparency and accountability in the deployment of these resources. Indeed, every resource must be made to count towards the attainment of our goals and ambitions. There is no room for waste.
“The National Council on Nutrition has its work cut out, in implementation, collaboration, and communication. We bear the burden of very high expectations – Nigeria must make speedy and visible progress in its fight against hunger, malnutrition and other nutritional challenges. As part of this we must ensure that the new National Food and Nutrition Policy is quickly domesticated at State level in every State of the Federation and the FCT,’ he stated.
On his part, Governor Yari suggested that the Vice President needs to bring governors on board to tackle the menace of malnutrition in the country.
“The issue of malnutrition has also to do with poverty and we need to put more resources even though government alone cannot do it. But still government can be the driving force so that any other person coming to support either the development partners or the private sector will the impact of what government is doing and then we can join hands to work together.
When asked if the governors will declare a state of emergency on malnutrition, he said “Though it was not mentioned but we will go back and strategize and come forward with what how we are going to tackle it with the development partners and the private sector.
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