‘Nutrition Must Be A Concern To Every State’

Prof. Isaac Folorunso Adewole

Mr Musa Umar, Chairman, Zamfara State Civil Society Organisations’ Nutrition Platform, an NGO, on Sunday said nutrition should be a major concern to every state in the country.

Umar told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that the percentage of children who died of malnutrition was on the increase.

He stated that scaling up the budget allocation for nutrition was an idea that required every state to buy into, adding that donor partners were soon getting to their threshold of intervening in the country.

“Nutrition services in the state are becoming a priority issue, looking at the percentage of stunted children, wasted children and also malnourished children.

“Government is the custodian of all people around and it is risky leaving malnutrition intervention to donor partners, time will soon come when donor partners’ help will end and they will leave.

“The whole problem will still get back to the state, so the best thing is for them to increase the budget on nutrition; it is time to have a realistic budget for nutrition services,” Umar said.

Umar said that the Zamfara Government had increased its budgetary allocation on nutrition from 25 million in the past year to 125 million to further tackle the menace of malnutrition.

“For now the 2016 budget has just been presented and we are at the level of state budget defence now.

“We believe that after the budget defence, the Zamfara state Civil Society, Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) will be there to advocate for that.

“Not only the budget increase but at the same time seek for the oversight function of the House of Assembly members in order to ensure the release of that fund,” the officer said.

The officer added that financial contributions from local government areas should also be considered as a means of supporting the state.

According to him, the 14 local governments in Zamfara contributes N1,200 monthly respectively to assist malnourished children.

Umar reiterated that the platform was engaging community leaders, women and families who their children had been restored to normal nutritional status to raise awareness in the state.

“The advocacy is getting to the grass root through meeting with traditional rulers in our state and other religious leaders.

“Currently we are trying to meet with the beneficiaries of those who their children were malnourished but through interventions have been restored to their normal health status to join in the awareness creation.

“Apart from that, with the inclusion of community leaders, we will have group discussions, town hall meetings at the grass root level, we have compound meeting for women and we discuss nutrition issues thoroughly,” he said.

NAN reports that the National Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition (NSPAN) was part of the plans adopted by the country in Sept. 2015 by stakeholders to salvage malnutrition menace.

The call for action to combat malnutrition challenges was generated considering the 2013 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey.

The survey showed that 37 per cent of children less than five years were stunted, 29 per cent underweight and 18 per cent wasted. (NAN)

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