The Federal Government of Nigeria is being encouraged to enforce the food fortification policy which is already in existence.
This move is owing to the concern being raised over the high rate of hunger, malnutrition and lack of nutrients amongst Nigerians, especially children.
Stakeholders believe that this will aid growth mentally and physically amongst Nigerian citizens, particularly children under the age of five and the workforce.
They were speaking in Lagos, the commercial nerve centre of Nigeria, during a campaign launch and media roundtable on promoting fortification compliance and workforce nutrition in Nigeria.
The roundtable was tagged “Fortifying Nigeria’s Future”.
The stakeholders in Nigeria’s nutrition sub-sector lamented that Nigeria is facing a serious nutrition crisis.
The advocacy campaign was sponsored by the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC) in collaboration with the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG) and E-Health Africa.
They had presentations by the Senate Committee Chairman on Health, Senator Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe; President, the Nutrition Association of Nigeria, Professor Wasiu Afolabi and President/CEO, of Consumer Advocacy for Food Safety and Nutrition Initiative (CAFSANI), Professor Ogunmoyela.
Delivering the opening remark, Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa Rafsanjani lamented that millions of Nigerians are undernourished, and many more are overweight or obese.
His words “According to the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2022, 44.1% of children under the age of five in Nigeria are stunted, meaning they are too short for their age. This is a decrease from 46.0% in 2018, but it is still a high number. Stunting is a sign of chronic malnutrition and can have long-term consequences for health and development.”
He added this postulation “The NDHS also found that 20.3% of children under the age of five in Nigeria are wasted, meaning they are too thin for their height. This is an increase from 19.9% in 2018. Wasting is a sign of acute malnutrition and can be a life-threatening condition. The NDHS also found that 18.7% of adults in Nigeria are overweight and 4.4% are obese. This is an increase from 17.4% and 3.4%, respectively, in 2018. Being overweight and obesity are major risk factors for chronic diseases such as heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, and some types of cancer.”
“Food fortification is a proven way to improve nutrition and health. It is a simple, cost-effective intervention that can be used to add essential nutrients to foods that are commonly consumed by large populations. Fortified foods can help to prevent micronutrient deficiencies, such as anaemia, vitamin A deficiency, and iodine deficiency. These deficiencies can lead to a range of health problems, including impaired cognitive development, stunted growth, and increased risk of infection. Fortified foods can also help to address the problem of overweight and obesity.”
Also speaking, Senate Committee Chairman on Health, Senator Dr Ibrahim Oloriegbe lamented that as of today, about 6 million children are malnourished in Nigeria.
“As of today, we have 6 million children suffering from malnutrition in Nigeria. Two million of that figure have severe acute malnutrition while the rest four million have moderate acute malnutrition.
“The way forward is for Nigeria to adopt a comprehensive approach to her food fortification policy. In some areas of the country, due to conflict or other issues, there is a shortage of food for people. Also, the issue of poverty is another problem.
“Nigeria has to address the issue of poverty and the issue of conflict. The government has to provide interventionist programs to address the lack of adequate food in some parts of the country,” Oloriegbe explained.