Nigeria’s Vice President Yemi Osinbajo has said the country is making significant progress in its fight against malnutrition.
Mr Osinbajo, while speaking at the 2020 Virtual Conference on Nutrition in Nigeria on Tuesday said, the progress was achieved through the implementation of various intervention programmes and increased funding.
According to a statement signed by the Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media & Publicity, Laolu Akande, the conference was organised by the Aisha Buhari Foundation in collaboration with development partners.
Malnutrition is a condition that occurs when people consistently do not consume or absorb the right amounts and types of food and essential nutrients. Globally, it contributes to nearly half of all child deaths — that is more than three million children each year.
Mr Osinbajo said tremendous progress has been recorded as a result of the Buhari-led administration’s efforts in collaboration with other stakeholders.
He noted that the Social Investment Programmes (SIP) has also contributed to the progress made.
“Noticeably, there has been a decline in stunting and wasting; stunting, from about 44% in 2017 to about 37% in 2019 and wasting from 10.8% in 2017 to 7% in 2019, and an increase in exclusive breastfeeding amongst children under 6 months from about 24% in 2017 to 29% in 2019,” he said.
Mr Osinbajo said the federal government has, in the past few years, demonstrated commitment towards addressing the problem through increase budgeting for nutrition activities and targeting it’s Social Investment Programmes towards tackling malnutrition.
He said an increased investment of N3.8 billion was made for the procurement of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF).
“The administration ensured progressive increases in budgetary allocations to nutrition activities in the country.
“There has been an increased investment of about N3.8 billion by Federal and State governments especially for the procurement of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF).”
He also listed the “revitalization of the Primary Health Care System with nutrition as the primary focus, the promotion of optimum breastfeeding and improved quality of complementary food.”
The vice president said improved collaboration and innovative thinking would be required to scale interventions and effectively address the problem.
“Clearly, we need to increase domestic financing. And the only way to do so is to look more at what we can do at both the Federal and State levels. But more importantly, to direct funding to communities with the greatest needs.
“I think civil society advocacy before the National Assembly is crucial to drawing attention to what you consider as priority.
“There are always several competing needs for resources and sometimes your strong voices especially directed as the debates that are going on can make a real difference in what ends up in the budgets, not just in the federal but even in the state budgets,” he said.
He, however, said budget funds from both states and federal governments cannot meet all of the needs.
He said the pool of funds from the mandatory health insurance programme will be an important contributor to financing nutrition.
In her address, the First Lady, Aisha Buhari, said the conversation about ending malnutrition in Nigeria should be embraced by all and sundry given the effect of the problem on society.
Represented by the Wife of the Vice President, Dolapo Osinbajo, she said the conversation will only stop when there are systems that can guarantee the survival of children in the country.
Other participants at the conference include Mohammad Inuwa Yahaya of Gombe State; Minister of Health, Osagie Ehanire; Minister of State, Budget and National Planning, Clement Agba; the representative of the Minister of Finance, amongst others.
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