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$1.5bn of Nigeria GDP loss to malnutrition

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By Usman Oladimeji

Govt has incorporated nutrition into National Development Plan 2021-2025.

The federal government of Nigeria expresses deep concern regarding the substantial annual loss of $1.5 billion from the country’s GDP constituted by the dearth of nutrients within the dietary patterns of its populace. Consequently, it’s also concerned that malnutrition could potentially impact the economy by impeding human capital development and diminishing productivity. Owing to the profound economic ramifications induced by the COVID-19 pandemic, with a particular emphasis on the poor and vulnerable households, to obtain adequate and nourishing food has become increasingly more hard to afford.

Through the Federal Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, the federal government has begun working on initiatives to take proactive action with anticipated positive results in the fight against malnutrition. Abubakar Bagudu, Nigerian minister of budget and economic planning, revealed this at the 53rd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN) in Abuja. He explained that the government is passionate about combating malnutrition, thus it has incorporated nutrition into both the National Development Plan (NDP 2021-2025) and “The Nigeria Agenda 2050.”

NSN members urged to put a strong emphasis on innovation.

As per his assertions, the initiatives entails efforts to attain highest level of nutritional well-being for every Nigerian citizen, with a focus on the most at-risk, as elucidated in the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition (NMPFAN 2021-2025). The minister implored the country’s experts in the field of nutrition to engage in research and develop novel approaches that will improve nutrition. He said these novel approaches and researches will make notable strides in attaining Sustainable Development Goals, guaranteeing comprehensive health coverage, and effectuating substantial transformative shifts in the Nigerian nutrition sector.

In addition, the government is making innovation and research top paramount to develop better solutions to the country’s nutritional issues and enhance people’s lives. In order to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, Universal Health Coverage, and to change the face of nutrition in Nigeria, he urges the members of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria to put a strong emphasis on innovation and research in the field of nutrition. Bagudu said Nigeria is in need of nutritionists well-versed in the field, have strong communication skills in order to address issues of nutrition education, are emotionally intelligent, and have a firm grasp on the dynamics of nutrition.

There is a need to improve nutrition-related leadership, capability.

He urged NSN senior executives to invest in R&D into finding long-term, sustainable resolution to Nigeria nutrition problems, and to adopt technology and digital solutions. Bagudu expressed optimism that concerted efforts would strengthen Nigerian nutritional leadership and workforce, thereby fostering better health and economic growth. According to the minister, members of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria are a part of a group that may take the lead in solving Nigerian nutritional problems. Bagudu affirmed to the NSN members that his ministry will improve coordination and provide strong direction in the nutrition sector.

To make a significant difference, he noted the need to do more than just increase our knowledge of nutrition; we also need to improve our nutrition-related leadership and workforce capability. It’s time for all of us to step up, take charge, and get the education and experience we need to make a genuine difference, he added. In his goodwill speech, the Governor of Kwara State, AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq, expounded that the Nigerian Governors’ Forum (NGF) have unraveled pivotal areas of dedication in order to actualize a healthier populace and nation. These areas encompass increasing budgetary allocations towards enhancing nutrition, as well as fortifying the nutritional landscape.

NGF is determined to revive state committee for food and nutrition.

For effective food nutrition across the country, he said, the NGF has determined to revive the state committee for food and nutrition and formulate sector-specific strategies for food and nutrition that align with the national plan, among other initiatives. Speaking, Prof. Wasiu Afolabi, the president of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, praised the federal government for issuing a presidential order for the establishment of the Nutrition Department, harmonizing it with existing Ministries and Agencies of Government and for allocating funds and appropriation for nutrition in 2023.

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