FG, NGO partner on improved nutrition for women, children
The Federal Government and Action Against Hunger (AAH) have advocated that nutrition should be a major part of the COVID-19 prevention strategies to build the resilience of children and the nation as a whole.
Minister of Women Affairs, Pauline Tallen, said COVID-19 had had a devastating impact on communities and has worsened hunger in most vulnerable parts of the country such as the northeast zone.
Speaking at an event organised by AAH to commemorate the World Food Day in Abuja, Tallen, represented by the Director, Child Unit, Jummai Muhammad, said the call became imperative because of Nigeria’s peculiar challenges.
She said available reports indicated that Nigeria had the highest number of children affected by malnutrition globally, with more than 2.5 million suffering from acute malnutrition.
“Women and children are most impacted by COVID-19 and of the national prevalence rate, 32 per cent of children under five, only two out of every 10 children affected is currently reached with treatment.
Reports also show that Nigeria has the highest burden of stunted children in the world.
The ministry has been working to educate on the benefits of consuming local nutritious foods, among others.”
Tallen added that food and nutrition security should be safeguarded, as nutrition could not wait especially in the face of health challenges. She called for continuous nutrition intervention as short-term disruptions of such programmes could have irreversible negative effects on child survival, health, and development of women in the long run.
Mr Adama Diarrassouba, Deputy Director, Support, AAH, called for stronger cooperation with stakeholders such as the federal and state ministries, agencies, departments, and legislators, among others, to improve nutrition.
Diarrassouba said AAH had programmes and activities aimed at fighting hunger through the improvement of food security systems among children, pregnant and lactating women’s nutritional status, and access to water since 2010 in Jigawa, Kano and Yobe states.
“According to the United Nations’ global state of food security and nutrition report, almost 690 million people around the world suffer hunger in 2019, an increase of 10 million people from 2018.
Yet, the situation is expected to be worst in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, unfortunately, the majority of the victims are women and children, the most vulnerable part of the population,’’ he said.
Beatrice Eluaka, Executive Secretary, Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), urged the government at all levels to ensure delivery of affordable and sustainable healthy diets for all.