By Ijeoma Ukazu |
With the increased number of child deaths from Micronutrient Deficiency (MND), Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, (CS-SUNN) has raised alarm calling on the government to increase its intervention.
Speaking during a one-day media roundtable in Lagos on Micronutrient Deficiency Control in collaboration with the Federal Ministries of Health and Agriculture, the Executive Secretary, CS-SUNN, Mrs. Beatrice Eluaka, said Micronutrient Deficiency is a major public health problem caused by lack of essential vitamins and minerals.
Eluaka said, the deficiencies include: vitamin A, zinc, iron, iodine in diets, adding that lack of these continue to contribute to morbidity and mortality among children by impairing immunity, impeding cognitive development and growth.
She said, “though the federal government has put in place strategies to address the burden of Micronutrient Deficiency by providing vitamin A supplementation, zinc supplementation, micronutrient powders, folic acid supplementation and nutrition education on bio fortified foods, but with WHO disturbing statistics, it indicates that a lot still needs to be done to fight the scourge.”
The CS-SUNN Executive Secretary, pointed that the World Health Organisation Global data base on vitamin A deficiency 1999 to 2005 says that 76.1 percent of pre-school aged in Nigerian Children are anaemia with 66.7 percent of pregnant women suffering from anaemia.
Eluaka said, “it is worrisome as WHO has identified anaemia as a severe public health problem in Nigeria.”
Stating the effect of micronutrient deficiency, she said; it also reduces physical capacity and work performance in adulthood, adding that, these deficiencies are a leading cause of anaemia in women, birth defects, increased vulnerability to infection, blindness and poor development in children.
She called on state governments to scale-up not only the provision and distribution of these supplements to hard- to- reach areas and across health facilities during the MNCH week but also counselling to ensure compliance. We urge Nigerians to diversify their diet and to ensure adequate nutrition by consuming a wide range of foods, including vegetables, proteins and fruits to improve their nutritional status,” she said.
She also said that there is need for massive sensitization, education and awareness creation to provoke behavioural changes that will promote adequate Infant and Young Child Feeding practices in the country.
According to her, early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and adequate complementary feeding are key behavioural traits required for scaling up nutrition.
She said, CS-SUNN is calling on the government at all levels to scale-up nutrition provision of basic package across the Primary Health Care Centres in the country.