Nutrition is a key to poverty reduction in Nigeria

children in NigeriaNIGERIA - The mainstreaming of nutrition intervention into programmes in the health, agriculture and other sectors of the economy has been recommended as a key operational   change to scaling up towards establishing nutrition as an integral part of the first Millennium Development Goal, which aims to reduce poverty and hunger.

President of the International Paediatric Association, Prof. Adenike Grange, who gave the recommendation last week in Lagos, observed that one of the gaps in the  effort to reduce income poverty, was the non-improvement in the area of non-income poverty, that is, malnutrition and hunger.

Grange, who spoke during  2nd Nutrition Seminar organised by the Olu Akinkugbe Child Nutrition Center under the auspices of Friesland Foods WAMCO Nigeria  Plc., tagged “Good Toddler Nutrition - Key to a Bright Future”  called for special focus to the issue of addressing the non-income aspect of poverty reduction in the  future.

In her presentation, Grange said initiatives like focusing on the window of opportunity-conception through the first two years of life and improvement of mother-child  caring practices to reduce incidences of low birth weight and improvement of infant feeding practices were equally essential towards attaining the intended objective.

Her words: “Scaling up micronutrient programmes because of their widespread prevalence, effort on productivity, affordability and extraordinarily high benefit cost  ratios and building on capacity development through micronutrient programming to extend actions to community-based nutrition programmes are required.”

She urged for more attention to financial and technical assistance for improving programme design, monitoring, evaluation and management as a way of achieving the  desired effect of improving nutrition through appropriate actions in agriculture, rural development, water supply, sanitation, gender, social protection and education in  order to re-orient some existing large scale nutrition investments.

Further, she called for building of local partnerships of individuals and institutions that can influence politicians, implementing agencies and development partners to  press for increased budgets for the right kind of nutrition investment.

The event, which attracted frontline nutritionists, dieticians, paediatricians, general practitioners and other  healthcare practitioners, was a reinforcement of the the  mission of the organisers to contribute meaningfully to the nutritional development of the average Nigerian through dissemination of information to key targets.

Amongst dignitaries who graced the ocassion were Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration And Control (NAFDAC), Prof. Dora  Akunyili, and Lagos State Commissioner for Education, Dr. Leke Pitan.

In a statement, Managing Director, Friesland Foods WAMCO Nigeria PLc, Mr Michiel Herkemij, noted that the Olu Akinkugbe Child Nutrition Center was  instituted in November 2005 to honor the founding Chairman, Chief Olu Akinkugbe.  Amongst its objectives, it aims to be a first class expertise center on child  nutrition by 2008 while giving credible, objective and trustworthy information as well as educating people on nutrition in general and child nutrition in particular.