Vice President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, who is also the Chairman, National Council on Nutrition has highlighted poverty as a major factor exacerbating malnutrition. He said poverty has been worsened by COVID-19 pandemic and the displacement of large populations as a result of banditry and insurgency. He was speaking at the virtual National Nutrition Summit Held on Tuesday, 18th August 2020.
Prof. Osinbajo identified the 2016 review of the National Nutrition Policy and the 2017 reconstitution of the National Council on Nutrition as major steps that the government has taken to turn the tide on the issue of nutrition in addition to progressive increases in nutrition allocations. He commended the conference for what he described as “important conversation on Nutrition”.
In her speech, read by wife of the Vice President, Mrs. Oludolapo Osinbajo, First Lady of Nigeria, Dr. Mrs. Aisha Muhammadu Buhari charged stakeholders to end the scourge of malnutrition ravaging Nigerian children so that they can survive, thrive and possess the requisite cognitive ability to handle the future. To ignore this, she said, is to mortgage our future, “because tomorrow, we would not have competent young adults to run government, businesses or even academia.”
“By now we are certain that the Government and people of Nigeria are not oblivious of the nutrition situation in the country. We have also made some progress in recent years, especially having more stakeholders talking about Nutrition, and getting more nutrition-sensitive budget lines at Federal and State levels.” She said.
Mrs. Buhari also drew attention to the current global pandemic, which has worsened the situation by moving all attention and resources towards the containment of the COVID -19 virus, and unconsciously excluding vulnerable children in the process. She stated that their lives are equally as important.
She expressed hope that all stakeholders will strengthen their resolve to make and follow through with their commitments on Nutrition.
Other speakers at the event includes the Minister of Health, Prof. Osagie Ehanire and Minister of State for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Agba; both stated that there is clear relationship between malnutrition and underdevelopment with Nigeria having the highest rates of malnutrition in Africa and second highest in the world, calling for more concerted effort to address this negative trend.
Discussions centered on the multi-sectoral plan of action, innovative financing, private sector engagement, and the impact of COVID-19.
The conference was attended by over 400 participants including stakeholders, eminent scholars and technocrats on nutrition.