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Nutrition Policy Will Create Escape from Poverty, Diseases – Mrs. el-Rufai

By Uangbaoje Alex, Kaduna

Wife of the Kaduna State Governor, Aisha-ummi Garba El-rufa’i, has said that the state Nutrition Policy, is not only meant to save the lives of women and child, but would also help them escape the vicious circle of poverty, disease and disability.

She stated this on Friday, at the opening of the state Nutrition Policy Dialogue with the theme “Emerging Opportunities and Innovative Financing Options for Nutrition Interventions” organized by the State Planning and Budget Commission supported by Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN).

The dialogue according to the organizers was meant to provide update on the nutritional status and burden of malnutrition to key stakeholders in Kaduna State. To orient key stakeholders on existing policies and plans that address malnutrition and related issues in Kaduna State and to also clarify key stakeholders’ roles and responsibilities towards delivery of nutrition results in the state.

To identify opportunities as well as potential barriers and challenges to the implementation of existing policies and plans for nutrition in the state, make recommendations and agree next steps towards improving the nutrition outcomes of all people, especially women and children, in Kaduna State.

Mrs. el-Rufai, noted that the policy is evidence-based, because it is predicated on the preceding actions and experiences of both the state and non-state actors in the field of practice.

According to her, “it thus, reflects the stance of the State and its partners towards saving the lives of women and children through improved consumption of nutritious food and other healthy practices, towards securing its future generation by ensuring that every child in the state has equal opportunity to develop physically and mentally so as to be able to meaningfully contribute to the growth and development of the State and country.

“The policy therefore provides the much-needed legal backing that will strengthen the synergy among sectors and other initiatives of government and partners to achieve the desired results.”

She said “it is a well-known fact that malnutrition is the major cause of many childhood illnesses, maternal and under five mortality in the State. It also robs children of the ability to grow mentally to reach their potential and become useful to themselves and the society.

“In recent years we have seen how effective coordination, interest, commitments, and actions around the issue of malnutrition have been intensified by all stakeholders in the State following the disturbing indicators that ranked Kaduna as one of the 10 worst affected States in the Country with an estimated burden of over 260,000 children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in 2016.

“It is more worrisome to note that Nigeria has the second highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 32 percent of children under five. An estimated 2 million children in Nigeria suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), but only two out of every 10 children affected is currently reached with treatment. Seven percent of women of childbearing age also suffer from acute malnutrition (World Bank, 2021). Also, in Kaduna State, NDHS survey shows that 48.1% (856,272) children under five are stunted.

“However, with the support of Partners, the State has been able to assess the extent of the problem, map out the hotspots, identify key interventions (both specific and sensitive) and estimate the resource requirement to ensure that no child or woman dies or is incapacitated by malnutrition in Kaduna state going forward. We are also proud to say that much progress have been recorded through the multisectoral approach that has been adopted in fighting malnutrition which is evidenced by improved nutrition indices particularly within the last 6 years of this regime.”

On her part, Executive Secretary, CS-SUNN, Beatrice Eluaka, noted that the objective of the dialogue is quite apt as current investments in nutrition are not comparable to the scale of the malnutrition problem in Kaduna state and Nigeria at large.

She said the theme also underscores the need for all stakeholders to focus more on nutrition programs that deliver results.

“CS-SUNN has remained a key advocate for nutrition with the sole purpose to work and mobilize civil society in Nigeria to attain a Country where every citizen has food and is nutrition secured. Being the Civil society alliance for the Scaling Up Nutrition Network, CS-SUNN is committed to mobilizing non-State Actors to advocate, generate evidence, build capacity and stimulate communities to scale up nutrition in Nigeria.

“We are currently implementing the Partnership for Improving Nigeria Nutrition Systems (PINNs) project that was designed to strengthen the Nigeria nutrition systems to be more Result-driven, Effective, Serviceable, Efficient, and Transparent (RESET) in delivering on their mandate and to hold government accountable on commitments made to allocate, release and use transparently funds for implementation of high impact Nutrition interventions in Nigeria through evidence based advocacy. We are also implementing the SUN Movement Pooled Fund window II and the SUN-Youth Voices for Sustainable Change.

“We appreciate the State Planning and Budget Commission, the State Committee on food and nutrition, and other partners for prioritizing nutrition issues in Kaduna state. We also commend today’s critical dialogue on Emerging Opportunities and Innovative Financing Options for Nutrition Interventions and look forward to closely following the proposed solutions and commitments which will emerge.

“Our call is now for action – we must act to ensure that every person, rich or poor, living in cities or rural areas, has food and is nutrition secured.” Eluaka, added.

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