Governments at all levels have been called upon to establish an Integrated Food and Nutrition Information Systems to better support policy development, programmes design and monitoring.
Trends from the National Demographic Health Survey, NDHS, show that prevalence of stunting in Nigeria was 42% in 2003, 41% in 2008, 37% in 2013 and 2018.
As a result, Nigeria has been listed as the country with the highest number of stunted children under age five in sub-Saharan Africa and the second highest in the world, making nutrition significant public health problem in Nigeria.
Executive Secretary, Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, Sunday Okoronkwo who made the call in Abuja at a media roundtable on Reset Nutrition for Human Capital Development in Nigeria noted that establishing an Integrated Food and Nutrition Information System will be a fulfillment of the National Policy on Food and Nutrition that enhances availability and use of routine nutrition data.
Represented by the Communications Officer at CS-SUNN, Lilian Okafor, Okoronkwo said the call became necessary following evidence that data management systems are weak at both the national and sub-national levels.
Poor response to treatment when ill, mild to serious learning disabilities, under performance at workplace are some of the challenges that malnutrition poses to growing children, says Executive Secretary, Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, Sunday Okoronkwo.
To address the negative impacts of severe acute malnutrition, SAM, and stunting on individual and national productivity, Okonkwo called for admonished governments at all levels to, among other steps, institute innovative ways of financing nutrition programmes, including increased domestic funding.
“CS-SUNN is calling on government to fund the 1% Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF) of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BCHPF) to improve funding of nutrition sensitive and specific interventions. BHCPF is a large-scale reform effort intended to increase resources for health and extend primary health care to all Nigerians, through the provision of a Basic Minimum Package of Health Services (BMPHS).
“The BHCPF will give the country a leap forward in revitalizing and strengthening primary health care service delivery and achieving the goals of Universal Health Coverage. Nutrition services are part of the BMPHS with Primary Health Centres being the closets point of access to health and nutrition services by the people. CS-SUNN states that for Nigeria to win the war against malnutrition, it must offer quality nutrition services in these facilities and get policymakers to prioritize nutritional interventions.
“Over the past 3 years, CS-SUNN efforts have contributed to increase in budgetary allocation for nutrition. However, allocations are still low and releases abysmal. Current investments in proven nutritional intervention are still inadequate compared to the magnitude of the problem. CS-SUNN is therefore calling for innovative ways of financing nutrition programming at all levels including increase in domestic funding. New strategies to increase budgetary allocation and raise additional fund is critical to meeting Nigeria’s HCD ambition.
“Nigeria’s nutrition data management systems are weak both at the National and sub-national levels. key sources of nutrition data are Demographic and Health Survey (DHS), Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) and National Nutrition Health Survey (NNHS) which are complex undertakings that cannot be implemented at the required frequency needed for nutrition programming in Nigeria.
“Therefore, it is critical to establish an Integrated Food and Nutrition Information Systems as stipulated in the National Policy of Food and Nutrition that enhances availability and use of routine nutrition data to better support policy development, programme designs and monitoring.”
In a presentation entitled “Nutrition and Attaining Nigeria’s Human Capital Development Targets and Goals”, the Coordinator, Human Capital Development in Nigeria, Yosola Akinbi explained that the Development Core Working Group focuses on 3 thematic areas and 6 critical Human Capital Development outcomes.
Akinbi also emphasized on the importance of collective efforts by all government levels, private sector and individuals towards strengthening Nigeria’s Human Capital Development.
“Almost always in Nigeria, data is a problem but not just Nigeria but all over the world. So we want to improve the collection of data because otherwise, how do we measure when we say we want to be able to improve nutrition and reduce childhood stunting from 44% to 22%? How do we measure that if we don’t have the data?
“And we also know that funding is an issue. So in the project, we have a situation where by it is not just government funding. So with all these private sector we are always talking about CSR but they do things that they want. Let us get them and encourage them to have that CSR thing in line with what is needed in their community. Let it be demand driven.”
Everyone is urged to support government’s target of having additional 20 million all-round healthy under-five-years-old children in Nigeria by the year 2030.