Through Ere-ebi Agedah
The National Conference on Nutritional Data and Outcomes, which opened in Abuja on Tuesday, with stakeholders brainstorming ways and strategies to advance the nutritional data value chain in Nigeria, was flagged as a “call to action”.
According to participants, the National Nutrition Council, nutrition development partners, stakeholders and government, the conference will provide a framework to serve as a basis for aligning and coordinating national data quality, use, funding, budget labeling and tracking.
The Honorable Minister of State for Health, Prince Clement Agba, declared the conference open, noting that the federal government is actively participating in action to tackle malnutrition, having made investment in nutrition a priority and insisting that failure to do so would have negative consequences Can have an impact on the nation’s gross domestic product, GDP.
According to the minister, the FG’s response to the fight against malnutrition has been productive and people-oriented, which includes a physical stimulation package, a change in the medium physical frame and the establishment of a nutrition department.
The minister insisted that the FG had emphasized protecting the economy and funding critical sectors of the economy, adding that significant progress had been made, such as the launch of the multi-economic sustainability package.
“As part of our determination to advance the food agenda, in addition to the concentric diversification of our economy, we have prioritized the implementation of the National Multisectoral Plan Flagship for Food and Nutrition in the National Development Plan 2021-2025 Agriculture through the continuum of the value chain, which has now made a significant contribution to our economy has done.
“In accordance with United Nations guidelines, Nigeria has successfully organized a number of food systems at national and sub-national levels of government.
“We have made investing in nutrition a priority by changing the economic stimulus plan and during this conference we will be presenting numerous projects that have been carried out in the field of nutritional data.
“Nutrition isn’t just a health issue, it’s about protecting the next generation. Let’s make sure every child has the opportunity to survive and thrive,” he said.
Nemat Hajeeebhoy, UNICEF’s chief nutritionist, said Nigeria is on the right track as more women exclusively breastfeed their children until the age of six months and new data from last year’s survey shows there is more support for women attend prenatal care services.
However, she deplored the fact that Nigeria is number one in Africa for malnourished children and insisted that there is not enough progress on what our children eat at six months and this is vital if we are to want to reverse the trend of malnutrition in the country.
“My appeal to everyone using this data is that we make sure that our health care system, our food system, our social security system, our work with women, mothers, whether they are in private or in government, is done to protect everyone to support expectant mothers with their children and ensure the right nutrition and the right start in life”
Also speaking on the sidelines of the conference was Pauline Adah, Maternal Infant and Young Child Nutrition, MIYCN Advisor for the USAID Advancing Nutrition Project Child growth and also trying to find solutions to better ways to improve nutritional data in relation to the SDGs.
Adah explained that Nigeria currently has a Gap program that aims to reduce malnutrition in various forms of wasting and stunting.
As a development partner, Adah added that the USAID Advancing Nutrition Project makes immense contributions to the nutrition field in Nigeria like the Integrated Health Program, the Breakthrough Action Nigeria Program and recently the USAID Advancing Nutrition Project in Nigeria.
“Our various projects come together to fit into the different aspects of nutrition and to advance nutrition outcomes in Nigeria. We are a very big contributor to all the surveys that are shared at the conference, we have the micronutrient survey results, the food consumption survey results, all of which are shared at the conference.
“We are also very interested in this conference because it will help bring a new face to nutritional action in Nigeria. Only data can tell you the status of your diet and which areas you need to work harder on. We look forward to any data shared at this conference and it will help us shape our upcoming proposals for new projects.
However, she explained that one of her mandates with the USAID Advancing Nutrition Project is to strengthen the capacity of all her state partners.
“We are currently working with the Bauchi, Kebbi and Sokoto and we will involve the Ebonyi state and the FCT, we make sure we distribute these materials to the states and the LGAs, we are working very closely with the state food committee and nutrition together in each federal state, we ensure that these documents are passed on. We are also working on the formation of the Local Government Food and Nutrition Committee to ensure these documents get to the grassroots where they can see the results which are indicative of the nutritional status of their area. This will equally encourage them to do more where they see many gaps,” she explained.
The conference is scheduled for three days, October 11-13, 2022, and will conclude with a closing ceremony chaired by HE Prof. Yemi Osinbajo and Chair of the National Nutrition Council at Banquet Hall State House, Abuja.
The conference style is plenary and uses presentation, panel discussion, question and answer modes.