– Say 3.6 million children are affected by severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria
By Princess-Ekwi Ajide, Abuja
Federal Government and According to a 2021 Food Consumption and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), have synergized to reduce malnutrition to barest minimum in Nigeria. According to Micronutrients Survey, the prevalence of severe malnutrition in Nigerian children has increased from 7 to 12 percent over the last five years and only 2.8 percent of these children received treatment with therapeutic foods due to inadequate access to RUTF.
For this, especially with persistent challenges related to food insecurity, limited access to quality healthcare, and inadequate nutrition interventions, the United States government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), in collaboration with the Federal Government of Nigeria and other stakeholders, partnered in a trade fair in Abuja to foster innovation and collaboration to address severe acute malnutrition.
The trade fair tagged “Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods, RUTF, and other Life-Saving Nutrition Commodities Expo”, provided a platform for government officials, the donor community, and RUTF manufacturers to discuss challenges, share experiences, network, and explore collaborative opportunities in expanding RUTF programmes.
Speaking at the event, USAID Mission Director, Dr. Anne Patterson, described the Trade Fair as the much-needed platform for local manufacturers, investors, and other operators in the RUTF and nutrition commodities value chain to display their products and innovations.
She expressed hope that the trade fair would provide a platform to build meaningful relationships that will result in sustainable local access to affordable, lifesaving, nutrition commodities that will help reduce severe malnutrition in Nigeria.
According to the USAID Mission Director, participants will have a valuable opportunity to network and build connections with the Nigerian government, donors, implementing partners, and other stakeholders.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and Chair of the national Committee on food and nutrition, Engineer Nebeolisa Anako, represented by the National Convener UN Food Systems Transformation Pathways for Nigeria, Dr. Faniran Sanjo, said, Nigeria is ranked the first in Africa and second globally in regards to number of malnourished children.
He said there is need for robust multisectoral collaboration and innovation so as to expand sustainable local access to affordable life-saving nutrition commodities to address severe malnutrition in Nigerian children, saying that malnutrition is a result of a host of underlying factors relating to poverty, poor diet, food insecurity, poor water among others.
The Deputy governor of Sokoto State, Idris Mohhamad Gobir, who spoke on behalf of other states beneficiaries of the project, said the various interventions being implemented in Nigeria especially interventions in the Health sector has contributed to reduction in maternal and child mortality rate thereby, saving the lives of under five children.