Save the Children, UNICEF and CS-SUN advocate for Nutrition Resourcing in Nigeria
By James Bigila, Media Coordinator
A town hall meeting of civil society groups was held on the 19th of February 2016 to address Nutrition resourcing and draw government’s attention to the problem of Malnutrition in Nigeria.
The event was held at the Bolton White Hotels Abuja and began with a press briefing with the Media in attendance.
At the end of the meeting, the CSOs drew up a communiqué to be presented to the Senate committee on health, requesting the legislature to prevail on the executive to ensure major health issues—routine immunization, family planning, childhood killer diseases and nutrition—get top priority in government agenda, said Dr Ngozi Onuorah, project coordinator for CS-SUNN.
Save the Children Nigeria, a member of the coalition, said support would help address different factors that contribute to malnutrition.
Dr. Yinka Adekugbe with members of the press. “What we have is lack of knowledge and awareness,” said Dr Olayinka Adekugbe, an advocacy advisor for Save the Children.
“Mother’s education is related to outcome of children, and income of household are factors, according to the [National Demographic Health Survey]. All the factors interplay. It is a systemic thing.”
Up to 300,000 children in Nigeria could die of malnutrition this year without intervention to save them, the United Nations Children’s Fund has said, even as stakeholders complain the government has done nothing to fund or implement its nutrition policy, two years after it was passed.
Estimates suggest up to 1.6 million children are at risk, many of them from moderate malnutrition, which will progress to severe malnutrition without any intervention, according to Arjan de Waqt, chief of nutrition at UNICEF, who addressed a townhall meeting on nutrition in Abuja on Friday.
“We have become deaf to these numbers. We have accepted these numbers. We don’t find it strange, unless it is your child, then it is no more a number,” de Wagt said.
“At least 280,000 of them don’t have to die, if you give them ready-to-use-therapeutic food, and you need government support for that,” he noted.
The Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), a coalition of nongovernment groups working on nutrition, lamented that government’s own National Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition (NSPAN) has not seen any funding or implementation.
“How can a policy be developed for 2014 to 2019—it is 2016 and there’s no funding for it?” questioned Dr Philippa Momah, of CS-SUNN.
The coalition said it was “disheartening” that the 2016 federal and state budget had been finalised and “yet nutrition was not seen as a priority issue in a country where over 11 million under five children are stunted.”
The meeting came to a close at about 4pm with a draft of a communiqué to be presented to the executive and Legislative arms of government.
Representatives from UNICEF, Save the Children and CS-SUNN
The participants at the town hall meeting