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Minister Pledges Enhanced Collaboration To Meet Nigeria’s Health Needs

The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, has pledged to collaborate with all health determinates in other Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) to meet the health needs of Nigeria.
Adewole made the pledge at the opening ceremony of the National Conference on Complementary Feeding Practices for Children of Six to 23 months of age.
Represented by the Minister of State for Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Adewole described the theme “Complementary feeding for the growth and development of Nigeria’’ as apt.
He said that nutrition was globally prioritised as a development agenda that yields high social and economic returns when invested upon.
“According to 2014 UNICEF’s state of the world’s children obesity is also on the rise amongst children.
“Malnutrition in children, especially stunting and obesity can be linked to both chronic lack of access to food on the one hand, as well as to sub-optimal feeding practices.
“If we get it right with adequate nutrition within the first 1000 days of human lifecycle, childhood malnutrition, susceptibility to infections and the staging expenses in protracted medication, management of most depilating diseases would be averted.
“The result of ignorance to unbiased and correct information about infant and young child feeding as well as immense pressure to involve the private sector fully at all levels of nutrition governance,’’ he said.
Ehanire said that policy making, production of fortified and formulated foods, and their delivery in nutrition education are contributing factors to the prevailing forms of malnutrition, under-nutrition, over-nutrition, obesity and micro-nutrition deficiencies.
He said that 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey, complementary feeding is of great concern.
He said that 37 per cent of children aged six to 23 months consumed the minimum dietary diversity with only 15.8 per cent of them in ages six to 11 months.
However, the minister listed efforts at addressing the trend in the country to include:
“We have signed on to Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) global movement structured to bring organisational networks to government, business, civil societies, academia and donor agencies to support national strategic plan of action on nutrition.
“The national IYCF policy which clearly states the national statement, IYCF guidelines which has adapted into community and facility infant and young child feeding (IYCF) training package.
“Conduct of uniform training and information sharing during the capacity building of services providers to ensure quality and harmonization services across the federation.
“Mass training of health workers and community health workers on both facility and community IYCF using the IYCF protocols for Nigeria.
“Pool of health workers have been trained in 2014 and 2015 on IYCF in the context of HIV with support from UNICEF.’’
Ehanire also listed the key elements to SDGs and its link to nutrition as follows:
“End poverty in all forms, End hunger, Achieve food security, Ensure healthy lives, Ensure quality education, Achieve gender equality, Resource empowerment and Revitalise global partnership.’’
He said that at the 2015 UN general assembly, Nigeria joined the global community to transit from 2000 to 2015 Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), to 2016 to 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
He said that during the summit President Muhammadu Buhari said that “the SDGs have come to complete the unfinished business of the MDGs, and Nigeria is committed to completing this unfinished business and achieving success’’.
He further said that it is hoped that the SDGs, complementary feeding practices in Nigeria can mount on its six delivery platforms, namely: People, Dignity, Planet, Partnership, Justice and Prosperity.
Dr Amina Shamaki, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, urged stakeholders to keep up with its collaboration, saying it is the only way the Nigerian child could be given a good start in life.
Shamaki, who was represented by the Director, Family Health, Dr Wapada Balami, said that adequate nutrition throughout infancy and early childhood was fundamental to the development of the child to full potential.
She said that the period from conception to two years of a child’s life was most important, 70 per cent of the brain development occurs during pregnancy and 30 per cent within the second year in the child’s life.
She further said that there was need to utilise the deliberations at the conference to develop nationwide culturally acceptable recommendations that can be sustained. (NAN)

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