The Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Thursday hosted a select group of Kano journalists to a one-day roundtable on micronutrient deficiency control (MNDC) in the state; the roundtable discussion was aimed at ensuring increased media reportage on factual MNDC-related issues so as to inspire policymakers to take the needed action.
The burden of malnutrition remains an issue of global concern and Nigeria is among countries with the highest numbers of children suffering from malnutrition; according to the UNICEF, Nigeria accounts for the second highest burden of stunting among children in the world.
Beatrice Eluaka, executive secretary of CS-SUNN, said micronutrient deficiencies result from lack of essential vitamins and minerals necessary for body growth and development. “Micronutrient deficiencies (MND) affects about 2 billion people all over the world and Nigeria has a high prevalence on micronutrient deficiencies which has persisted for years,” she said.
Eluaka described micronutrient deficiencies as the leading cause of anemia among women, leading to birth defects, impaired immunity, blindness, amongst others, as well as resulting in reduced physical capacity and work performance during adulthood. She said the absence of essential nutrients such as Iron, Iodine, Vitamin A and Zinc in the body leads to micronutrient deficiency.
The WHO global database on Vitamin A revealed that 76.1% of pre-school aged Nigerian children are anaemic, with 66.7% of pregnant women suffering from anaemia; the WHO has consequently classified anaemia as a severe public health problem in Nigeria. Similarly, the World Bank Nutrition Country Profile for Nigeria indicates that the country loses 1.5 billion dollars in GDP annually to micronutrient deficiencies.
While speaking on the food based approaches to addressing malnutrition in Nigeria, Adam Poju of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, said the federal government’s policy towards supporting the fight against malnutrition included import substitution, trade investment incentives, public private partnerships, amongst others. “The underlying causes of malnutrition and micronutrient deficiency arise from household food insecurity, inadequate care and feeding practice as well as poor water hygiene and sanitation practices,” he said.
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