Enugu State Government has approved a counterpart fund for value-added supplements such as (MMP) Micro Nutrient powders and RUTF to Fight Chronic malnutrition and check stunted growth in all children in the state under the age of five.
Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi who disclosed this in a one-day high engagement meeting organised by the Enugu State Ministry of Budget and Planning in Collaboration with United Nations Childrens fund (UNICEF) lamented over the increasing rate of malnutrition in the state.
Enugu State had also domesticated national multisectoral plan of action, and also developed a state specific sectoral and strategic plan of action for nutrition a five year plan that will cost N7,599,889,655.00 to fight malnutrition in the state.
Ugwuanyi, who was represented by his deputy Cecilia Ezeilo in the Meeting with Stakeholders and Policy Makers on Investment in Nutrition held in Enugu,said the state government was deeply concerned over the increasing stunting rate in the state which shows a steady raise from 8 percent to 12 percent and has shown a significant increase of 15 percent.
“Indicating that one out of every five children under five years in the state is stunted while breastfeeding rate is only 19 percent,” Ezeilo said.
She said: “In view of the situation government is eager to give attention to other palliative areas in other to urgently revise the detorating health and nutritional status among the under five children in the state.”
Ezeilo said that Enugu State government are highly disposed to invest in every coherent and strategic approach by multinational health care institution and other development partners to maintain the fight against malnutrition in the state.
She commended UNICEF for always supporting the state programs as it concerns children and women and expressed confident that the meeting was a necessary staring point with the hope that it will achieve the expected milestone.
The theme of the meeting “Prioritising Investment in Maternal, Infant, Young Child and Adolescent Nutrition,” she said.
According to her, the state government will shore up the nutritional needs of children under five and this will further reduce infant mortality in the barest minimum in the state.
The government thanked UNICEF and international and local health partners as well as other stakeholders in ensuring that the state gets back on track and work hard to rank among the states with the highest well-fed and well nourished children in the country.
In a good will message, the Chief of UNICEF Enugu Field Office, Juliet Chiluwe, said UNICEF was committed to partnering with Enugu State and with other relevant partners and stakeholders to achieve their agenda as far as it concerns women and childrens health.
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She said the engagement offers opportunity for awareness creation and high level advocacy on the importance of nutrition to the survival and general well-being of women and children as well as its impact on productivity, economic growth and national development.
“The event is very strategic as policy makers from the state and LGAs, relevant Federal stakeholders and the private sector are present to reinforce government support for the state to expand the scope of the nutrition programme.
“This programme, which has been at the three pilot LGAs since 2019, roll out planned strategies and community innovations to tackle nutrition issues especially in the first 1000 days, with expectations of breaking the inter-generational cycle of under-nutrition within Enugu State.
“Available evidence shows that getting the right nutrients at the right time is critical.
“Enugu State has stunting (growth) rate of 15 per cent, approximately 147,816 children are shorter than expected height for their age, with associated poor cognitive functions,” she noted.
In a goodwill message, John Uruakpa, director, Head Micronutrients Deficiency Control in Federal Ministry of Health, lauded Enugu State Government for creating a functional multi-sectoral stakeholders committee on food and nutrition and said the issue of tackling malnutrition, under-nutrition and stunt growth must be taken seriously in any state or country.
“Countries are rated according to their ability to feed their citizens and ensure that they are healthy to enhance national optimal health and production,” Uruakpa said.
He emphasised that the campaign on nutrition and the advocacy and action should be directed to the rural communities and primary healthcare centres,to ensure that the people know what and what they should do to avoid malnutrition
The state’s Commissioner for Budget and Planning, David Ugwunta, said that the high level meeting was to identify opportunities and challenges in tackling under-nutrition of children.
“From this meeting, we should come out with concrete and actionable plans and advocacy programmes that will be followed up and implemented to get positive desirable outcomes,” Ugwunta said.
Lawrenec Agubuzu, chairman of Traditional Rulers Council of Enugu State, who was at the meeting expressed concerns and encouraged the government and her ministries to go all out to schools and support needed investment to assist low income families, schools and communities to improve on their feeding
“With the current collaborative efforts of all, I sincerely believe that we can get it right and ensure the right cognitive and physical development of our children,” he said.
The meeting was also attended by representative of the Ministry of Education; Ministry of Information; Enugu State Primary Health Care Development Agency; Enugu State Agency for Universal Health Coverage and civil society organisations, among others.