Stakeholders in the Nigerian health sector have called for increased investments to curb cases of malnutrition in Nigeria.
Speaking in Abuja on Wednesday, during a policy influencer roundabout on nutrition, stakeholders noted that poor funding and implementation have hindered the impact of the food and nutrition policy which was developed in 2016.
Michelle Metha, World Bank nutrition specialist, who spoke to Businessday at the sideline of the event said that nutrition has remained an important issue for Nigeria, especially malnutrition and stunted growth among children.
Metha noted that 33 percent of children in Nigeria were stunted, “so that’s a large number of chronically undernourished children. This can impact their brain development, their cognitive development, their learning later in life, and their productivity later in life.
“And this is not just a moral imperative. It’s an economic imperative that the country needs to take on and to develop policies and programmes to address this and I think that policy dialogue at the highest level is incredibly important.”
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO, malnutrition increases healthcare costs, reduces productivity, and slows economic growth, which can perpetuate a cycle of poverty and ill health.
Malnutrition has remained a major issue in Nigeria, affecting over 35 million children under age five, with 12 million stunted, 3 million wasted, and 23.5 million anemic. 17.7 million hungry people, with 1 million suffering from acute food insecurity, the 2023 Cadre Report revealed.
Speaking further, Metha stressed the need for intervention programmes and policies to be translated to members of the public at the grassroots levels, to drive impact.
She further disclosed that the World Bank in partnership with the Nigerian government is currently implementing a 5-year nutrition program called ‘Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria’, “the five-year program is among the first slice of a longer-term investment and a longer-term vision for improving nutrition in Nigeria and we are 100 percent committed.”
In his remarks, John Chukwuemeka, director of, the family health department of the Ministry of Health said that addressing issues of poor nutrition was critical for human development.
According to him, the Nigerian government is putting in much effort to improve the health sector, through investment in the prevention and treatment of disease outbreaks, as well as improving the food system.
“More investment is needed in nutrition because nutrition has become a developmental issue, and as we know, we are what we eat. Good food is critical to ensuring a society free from diseases.
“Nigeria government needs to look inward, get indigenous solutions to these issues. We cannot keep waiting for developmental partners to decide what works in Nigeria, we should develop peculiar solutions to address these issues.
“Nigeria government should address insecurity, provide fertilisers, and programs to boost healthy food production, we do not have to wait for World Bank to tell us before we do these things,” he said.