Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo on Wednesday in Abuja inaugurated the National Council on Nutrition, and the 2017 Global Nutrition Report.
Inaugurating the Council at the Vice President Conference hall, Presidential Villa, Osinbajo said Nigeria must make speedy and visible progress in its fight against hunger, malnutrition and other nutritional challenges.
He noted that as Council had a robust roadmap to work with the National Food and Nutrition Policy, the nation must ensure that “the new Nutrition Policy is quickly domesticated in every state and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
The National Food and Nutrition Policy was adopted in April 2016 by a broad coalition of stakeholders, comprising the Federal and State Governments, civil society and international development partners.
According to the vice-president, the inauguration of the council is further demonstration of the seriousness with which the Buhari administration takes the issue of improving the nutritional status of all Nigerians.
“”That policy, if fully implemented, will ensure significant improvements in several specific national indices, including the reduction of stunting in under-5 children, reduction of wasting in children, reduction of anaemia in pregnant women, reduction in adult obesity rates, and an increase in the rates of exclusive breastfeeding.
“”More than any other government in Nigeria’s history, this administration has demonstrated its seriousness about catering to the needs of the most vulnerable of our population.
“”One of the primary manifestations of this commitment to the vulnerable is our Social Investment Programme, comprising a School Feeding Programme for public primary schools, a Micro-credit scheme for small business people, a Conditional Cash Transfer scheme, and Jobs programme for unemployed graduates.’’
Osinbajo observed that the School Feeding Programme, which is meant to improve the nutrition of primary school children, had been active in 19 states of the country, providing one meal a day to five million children .
He said: ““Our target is 5.5million children before the end of the year.
“”At the beginning of December, we intend to carry out a mass deworming exercise on the back of the School Feeding Programme.
“”Our Agriculture reform agenda is focusing on achieving self-sufficiency within the shortest possible time.’’
The vice-president noted, with delight, that the Northeast, where Boko Haram’s violence disrupted the farming cycle for years, had started witnessing a remarkable improvement in security, allowing the people to return to their farms.
“”In our healthcare agenda, we are revitalizing our primary health care system, with nutrition at the very heart of it, and promoting optimum breastfeeding and quality of complementary foods.’’
He stated that government was also collaborating with the private sector to ensure Nigerians have year round access to adequately fortified and nutritious foods.
He said that government was also working with both national and international partners to raise awareness and deepen understanding on this issue.
““It is clear that there is a strong connection between nutrition and economic growth.
““If we invest in improved nutrition for our people we will see the results not only in improved emotional and psychological satisfaction in our citizens, but also in reduced healthcare costs and increased economic productivity.
““We must therefore ensure that we mobilize the resources needed to make these needed investments,’’ he said.
He revealed that the federal government had been progressively increasing budgetary allocations to nutrition activities.
He, however, maintained that the private sector, civil society and international community must all play a key role in helping to mobilize financial and logistical resources as government could not fund the nutrition activities.