Minister wants government to leverage on mobile technology for improved access to health, others
Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has stressed the need to use mobile technology to expand access to health and nutrition services in the country.
Speaking at the national Launch of the Mobile Nutrition Programme in Abuja, the minister noted that 33 per cent of children under-five years of age in Nigeria suffer from chronic malnutrition or stunting with half of the children in the poorest 40 per cent of households suffering from stunting.
Malnutrition is known to slow economic growth and perpetuate poverty by reducing children’s brain development, their ability to learn, and be productive citizens during their adult years. Evidence indicates that malnourished children learn less in school, are more likely to drop out of school and will earn less as adults.
According to him, most malnutrition happens in the first 1000 days of a child’s life – from conception to the child’s second birthday — and children lose up to 10 Intelligent Quotient (IQ) points if they do not receive adequate nutrition and care in the first 1000 days of their lives. This early damage is essentially irreversible, with impaired cognitive development, reduced learning ability and lost productivity in adult years.
He observed that the mNutrition Programme, which is part of the Behaviour Change Communication strategy in Nigeria’s National Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition (NSPAN) is a project that leverages on technology to scale up the delivery of health and nutrition messages towards improved health outcomes in Nigeria.
The minister who described the launch of the MNutrition Programme as a step towards our drive for achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC) in the country, said it would contribute to the attainment of the goal of the National Policy on Food and Nutrition and invariably, the targets set for the National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition by 2019.
Adewole noted that by delivering simple but effective messages through mobile phones and other related gadgets, several countries have increased citizens’ access and use of nutritional services.
He observed that with support from relevant stakeholders, the Federal Ministry of Health has developed effective messages that would ensure an uptake of health and nutrition practices by the populace adding that the nutrition content specifically targets the five key developmental stages such as women of Reproductive age, Pregnancy, Newborns, Infants and Children under 5 years of age.
These messages are to be implemented through Short Message Service (SMS) and voice in major local dialects across Nigeria. Thus, vulnerable pregnant women and mothers with children under the age of two can access life-saving Nutrition mobile content on health and nutrition information and education services.