Vice-president Yemi Osinbajo says Nigeria’s future and lives of young people depend largely on the collective efforts by the public and private sectors toward improving human nutrition outcomes.
In a statement on Monday in Abuja, Mr Osinbajo’s spokesman, Laolu Akande, said the vice president presided over a virtual meeting of the National Council on Nutrition.
Following the council’s recommendations, a presidential directive was issued for establishing nutrition departments in all relevant ministries, departments and agencies.
Mr Osinbajo, at the virtual meeting, mandated relevant public service officials to follow up on the implementation of the directive.
“If we don’t make these efforts and do it seriously, the sheer number of our children whose mental and physical development would be stunted would be mind-boggling, and I think that we must not allow a situation where in the years to come, we are asking ourselves whether we couldn’t have done better,” said the vice-president. “I am very concerned that we do not allow bureaucracy to get in the way of the real efforts that ought to be made.”
He added, “This is a point that I think we must make again and again; we cannot afford to allow bureaucracy and some rules to get in the way of actually making the impact that we need to make.”
Mr Osinbajo harped on the significance of having departments of nutrition in all relevant MDAs.
“We must all come together and work hard on this issue of getting the department within the MDAs and ensuring that every MDA has a department of nutrition so that we can make individual impact and of course, the collective impact that we need to make,” he explained.
Mr Osinbajo also urged for more public sensitisation and awareness drive on the efforts of the council in improving nutritional outcomes nationwide.
According to a recent UNICEF report, Nigeria has the second-highest burden of stunted children globally, with a national prevalence rate of 32 per cent of children under five.
An estimated two million children in Nigeria suffer from severe acute malnutrition, but only two out of every 10 children affected are currently reached with treatment. Seven per cent of women of childbearing age also suffer from acute malnutrition.
The virtual meeting was attended by ministers, heads of federal government agencies, development partners, and private sector members.
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