The Federal Ministry of Health (FMOM) has said that a huge nutrition challenge, including under-nutrition, micronutrient deficiency and over-nutrition, causing overweight and obesity, has been a serious challenge to Nigerians.
Binyerem Ukaire, the ministry’s director and head of nutrition, made this known on Wednesday at the 17th ECOWAS Nutrition Forum in Abuja.
The three-day forum is themed: “Leveraging Sustainable Financing for Multisectoral Approaches: Accelerate Universal Access to Nutritious, Safe, Affordable and Sustainable Diets”.
Mr Ukaire said the government’s strategic response to address Nigeria’s nutrition challenges included creating an enabling policy environment for the National Food and Nutrition Policy.
He said the government’s response could also be boosted by developing Nigeria’s Global Action Plan (GAP) on waste reduction.
Also, Chito Nelson, Head of Nutrition, Social Development Department, Federal Ministry of Finance, said the country would improve the nutrition indices through optimal nutritional status for all Nigerians, particularly women, children and internally displaced people.
According to Simeon Nanama, Regional Nutrition Advisor, UNICEF, stunting is a big challenge in the ECOWAS region.
Mr Nanama said the region must reduce the stunting rate to 4.2 per cent to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 by 2030.
“As of last year, we had about 12 per cent waste in Niger Republic. We can use available data to understand how to address the issues,” he said.
Laetitia Ouedraogo-Nikiema, Regional Adviser, Nutrition and Food Safety, WHO, said the region needs to protect and promote diets, services and practices that support optimal nutrition, growth and development for all children, adolescents and women.
Ms Ouedraogo-Nikiema said that the current food system did not enable the region to provide food for children.
“Policies and Actions to Promote Safe and Healthy Diets in ECOWAS Region. Today, our food systems are key drivers of malnutrition and widening health insecurity. Action on food systems can truly tackle the root causes of malnutrition,” she said.