NIGERIA is the highest country battling malnutrition in Africa, with over 17 million malnourished children, the Federal Government, FG, and a global nutrition organization, Nutrition International, NI, have said.
The duo disclosed this during the week, in Abuja, during a meeting to disseminate the findings of the home fortification implementation research using Small Quantity Lipid-based Nutrient Supplements, SQLNS,
Speaking during the meeting, the Federal Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire, said malnutrition has remained a significant public health problem despite huge investments.
The Minister, represented by the director Health and Nutrition, Ministry of Health, Dr. Binyerem Ukaire, said the major underlying causes of malnutrition in Nigeria include poor infant and young child feeding practices, poor access to and consumption of safe nutritious diet rich in both macro and micronutrients, inadequate access to healthcare, water, and sanitation, and a high level of poverty, among others.
“The Federal Government of Nigeria has made concerted effort in collaboration with development partners to reduce the burden of malnutrition in the country,” he said.
On his part, NI Nigeria, country director, Dr Osita Okonkwo, said malnutrition isn’t just a chronic problem, it’s a national problem that needs urgent attention attention.
Presenting, the summary of findings, Okonkwo said the implementation fidelity of the project was high with appropriate targeting of poor households with under-five children as beneficiaries and appropriateness of the intervention context.
Okonkwo said caregivers’ perception is improving with increasing duration of the intervention and acceptability of the MNPs by the children and caregivers is generally high.
He said key drivers of adherence include perceived improvements in health, appetite, strength, and physical growth of index children benefits
He recommended that Integrated Community Outreach Clinics have demonstrable potential, capacity, and acceptability to distribute MNP and other nutrition commodities.
He, however, said supervision and logistic supply need to be strengthened to ensure the teams deliver the commodity according to plan.
“Similarly, improved engagement with other stakeholders such as community gatekeepers and household heads can increase acceptability and utilization of MNP in households,” he said.