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Nigeria National Nutrition Week highlights the need for nutrition in COVID-19 response
In November, Nigeria observed National Nutrition Week, an annual event to rally efforts to address the burden of malnutrition in the country. This year’s theme, “Nutrition: The Bedrock for Economic Development,” underscored the critical role of nutrition in development plans and COVID-19 recovery efforts.
Posted on December 22, 2020
The week of activities began with a launch on November 16, hosted by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning, and the Federal Ministry of Health, in collaboration with the Nutrition Society of Nigeria and nutrition stakeholders.
The Honourable Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, delivered the keynote address at a ministerial press briefing. His speech highlighted the government’s concern over Nigeria’s food and nutrition situation, and its impact on achieving economic and development milestones.
According to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey 2018, 37% of children under five are stunted, 7% of children under five are wasted, 22% of children under five are underweight, and more than half of women are anaemic. COVID-19 has further exacerbated these challenges, negatively impacting the economy and increasing food insecurity in the country.
Following the press conference, stakeholders joined a webinar titled “Nutrition as a catalyst for economic development.” Titilola Abolade, Nutrition International Nigeria Project Director, delivered the opening message, noting that malnutrition and economic development are linked, and that addressing malnutrition requires a wholistic approach with multiple sectors working together.
“A healthy and better educated population underpins economic growth and drives economic development,” she said. “This helps break a cycle of poverty and allows us to reach our potential.”
Dr. Bamidele Omotola, a Nutrition International technical advisor, delivered a presentation on “How Nutrition Can Help in the Fight Against COVID-19,” which also emphasized the need for adequate resources to be provided annually to fund Nigeria’s Multisectoral Plan of Action for Nutrition.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Budget and National Planning, H.E. Olusola Olayinka Idowu encouraged the webinar participants to prioritize nutrition.
“Nutrition is a smart investment,” she said. “It requires a collective responsibility and resources to address malnutrition. My ministry will continue providing leadership in accordance with the National Policy and Food and Nutrition in Nigeria.”
Following the webinar, participants agreed that there was a need for close collaboration between stakeholders and the private sector, stronger leadership in moving nutrition issues forward, and more urgency in translating policies to action.