Osun State Government has developed a 5-year costed multi-sectoral strategic plan of action for nutrition as part of strategies to address the challenge of malnutrition in the state.
Speaking at a 3-day workshop on the state strategic plan on nutrition sponsored by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Director of Community Health Services and Education at the Osun State Primary Health Care Development Board, Mr James Oloyede said there is urgent need to address the problem of malnutrition in the state.
Oloyede said the nutritional status of children below the age of five in Osun state has not improved in the last five years according to the report of Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) 2016-2017.
He said over 23% of under five children in the state are stunted and 8% wasted which means that those children may not fulfil their full potentials in life and they are at a greater risk of diet related non communicable diseases such as diabetes, obesity, hypertension in later years.
“The report also showed that more children are likely to die today than they were 5 years ago as Infant mortality rose above the national average of 70/1000 from 40/1000 live births in 2011 to 78/1000 in 2016 and Under 5 mortality rose from 58/1000 to 101/1000 in the same period.”
He said the state government was committed to reverse this ugly trend through an integrated multi-sectoral strategic plan of action that will clearly identify priority areas such as nutrition of women of child bearing age, infant and young child feeding.
Other priority areas include ensuring food security, micro nutrient deficiency control, treatment of severe acute malnutrition, nutrition in education and institutions, poverty reduction and recruitment and deployment of nutritionists to handle nutrition issues in the State. He said the state strategic plan on nutrition clearly outlined activities and assign roles and responsibilities that would ensure its implementation.
Oloyede expressed delight that efforts at improving the practice of Breastfeeding have yielded positive result in the state as the rate of Exclusive Breastfeeding increased by 35.8% from 40.7% to 55.3% in 2016.
A Public Health and Nutrition Programme Manager in the Osun State Primary Health Care Development Board, Mr Izuchukwu Michael Offiaeli while taking participants through the objectives and the expected outcomes of the workshop explained that an integrated strategic costed nutrition plan of action was being developed for the state for the period between 2018 and 2023.
At the workshop attended by top officials of ministries and agencies of Osun State Government, Michael explained that the document would also detail the commitments in financial investments going into nutrition and the roles as well as the responsibilities of all the relevant sectors and stakeholders.
Michael said “this 5-year costed multi-sectoral strategic plan of action for nutrition is an integration of nutrition investments, as well as nutrition considerations into programs in all sectors in the state and to also increase policy coherence and seamless implementation of nutrition activities in the state.”
A lecturer at the Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, College of Food Science and Human Ecology, University of Agriculture, Abeokuta, Ogun State, Dr Wasiu Akinloye Afolabi said it has become imperative to make case for nutrition in national development agenda.
He noted that the consequences of malnutrition are far reaching and that necessary steps must be taken to address it. “Malnutrition impairs growth and health of children, reduces learning and education of children, increases health care cost of families and nation due to treatment of illness and reduces national productivity”, he said.
According to him, “Investment in nutrition will boost gross national product by 11%, prevent child deaths by more than one third per year, improve school attainment by at least one year, increase wages by 5-50%, reduce poverty as well-nourished children are 33% more likely to escape poverty and also empower women to be 10% more likely to run their own business and break the inter-generational cycle of poverty.”
He added that nutrition was being recognized as both an input and output into development and cost benefit analysis has shown that every $1 spent on nutrition can yield $16 in return for a country and maintained that government and all stakeholders must act on time to tackle malnutrition.
The President of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Dr Bartholomew Brai, explained that the National Food and Nutrition Policy is a document that provides the framework for addressing the problems of food and nutrition insecurity in Nigeria and hailed Osun State government for its efforts in curtailing malnutrition.
Brai said the “it is good development that Osun is developing this 5-year costed multi-sectoral strategic plan of action for nutrition in line with the National Food and Nutrition Policy.”
“The policy recognizes nutrition as a multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary issue relevant to national development. It was first developed in 2001 and reviewed in 2013 to include emerging issues such as nutrition in the first 1000days of every child, nutrition in emergencies and increase in prevalence of diet-related non-communicable diseases amongst others.”
“The policy contains six thematic areas including food and nutrition security, enhancing provision of quality health services, enhancing care-giving capacity, raising awareness and understanding of the problem of malnutrition in Nigeria and resource allocation for food and nutrition security at all levels and the six strategies are aimed at achieving the policy objectives”, Brai added.