Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, has called for improved collaboration between government and the private sector to rid the country of malnutrition challenges.
Osinbajo, represented by Mrs Maryam Uwais, Special Adviser to the President on Social Investments, made the call during the ongoing Feed Nigeria Summit in Lagos.
The vice-president said that partnership with willing and competent partners had the potential to reduce the current costs of treating severely malnourished children.
“The private sector can assist by producing and marketing affordable fortified products such as Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) which is designed to treat children suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM).
“The cost of treating a single child is N31, 840 (around $160),with the RUTF accounting for 60% of the total cost (around$76).
“In addition to the production of RUTF, many local diets fail to meet the nutritional requirements of children between six months to 24 months old,” he said.
Osinbajo said that partnerships should be established with multiple manufacturers, distributors and government ministries to increase product choices, access, affordability and improve compliance with codes and standards.
He said that the partnerships would promote public education on good feeding practices and use of local food for preserving nutrients.
According to him, the media is a critical partner that can address some of the gaps with sufficient publicity, creating awareness and knowledge-sharing about the issue.
The vice-president said that reports from Aid agencies in the North-East revealed that numbers of Nigerians on the brink of famine had reached over 1.5 million in the region alone and triggered by the Boko Haram insurgency.
“More revealing is the fact that an estimated 617,000 children from the North-East suffer from acute malnutrition with more than 40% of them from Borno State alone,” he said.
Osinbajo said the Federal Government’s Home-Grown School Feeding Program was targeted at attracting and enrolling over 11 million out-of-school children by providing one free school meal per day to the pupils.
He said that the programme was in actualisation of government’s dream to have a Nigeria where every child was assured of primary school education with improved health and nutritional outcomes.
“We realise the extent of poverty and the resultant poor nutritional and health status of our children that ends up grossly affecting their learning outcomes.
“The program ensures that meals are given to enrolled pupils in line with prescribed nutritional meals.
“This menu provides the children with the essential building blocks for healthy growth and a stronger immune system that enhances the wellbeing, cognitive senses andultimate success of the child in life,” he said.
Osinbajo stressed that the programme would stimulate activities in the agriculture sector, increase demand for produce by smallholder farmersand generate jobs for community women who serve as cooks to the pupils.
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