Hajiya Zainab Ahmed, the Minister of State for Budget and National Planning, says the Federal Government has put structures in place to tackle increasing rate of malnutrition in the country.
Ahmed spoke with State House correspondents shortly after the inaugural meeting of the National Council on Nutrition chaired by Vice-President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, on Tuesday.
She said the participants were drawn from the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Budget and National Planning and some of our development partners.
The minister said that the national policy on nutrition had been approved by the National Economic Council.
According to her, the first structure we have in place in National Council.
Ahmed said: “We hope also to convince the states that they need to help at State level council for nutrition; local government council level for nutrition as well as community or ward level councils for nutrition.
“The problem is complex one; multi-faceted; each of these councils will have a different mix of stakeholders to ensure that the problem is addressed from different phases.”
On his part, the Emir of Kano, Alhaji Muhammadu Sanusi II, said that 58 per cent of children in Kano State under five years suffered chronic malnutrition, while 17 per cent of them had acute malnutrition.
The former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria said that the rate of malnutrition in Nigeria was alarming; hence an urgent action.
Sanusi said: “This was the second meeting of NCN; it reflects the importance government attaches to this problem.
“We are facing a major crisis; children are dying in this country from chronic and acute malnutrition; we have stunted children; we have women of reproductive age suffering from anemia.
“I give you an example; in Kano State alone, 58 per cent of all the children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition; 17 per cent of them have acute malnutrition; 48 per cent of women of reproductive age have anemia.
“That leads to a very high infant mortality rate and maternal mortality rate.
“Children die and we think it is a medical problem; but they die because they are malnourished and some of these are simple things like exclusive breast feeding; it is all about communication.’’
According to the traditional ruler, it is about knowing the right diet and having access to education and nutritious food.
“I believe what we are going to do now is to work on communication strategy. We also encourage the states to set up structures to deal with nutrition.”
He said that there was need to identify specialists in nutrition; set up structures and have them focused on the problem.
Sanusi said that the report of the Minister of Budget and Planning showed the enormity of the problem and the importance of acting quickly, having a budget, having a structure and having a commitment.
He added: “We will do presentations to National Executive Council and we hope that this is the beginning of a much needed effort to address this problem.”