Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, which is a coalition of non-government groups working on nutrition, has lamented government’s inability to implement or fund the National Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition, NSPAN, despite the finalisation of the 2016 federal and state budgets.
The coalition said it seems that government does not see it as a priority, hence the neglect.
Dr Philippa Momah of CS-SUNN said “How can a policy be developed for 2014 to 2019—it is 2016 and there is no funding for it?”
According to the coalition, despite the finalisation of the 2016 federal and state budgets, “nutrition was not seen as a priority issue in a country where over 11 million under-five children are stunted.”
Project Coordinator for CS-SUNN, Dr Ngozi Onuorah, explained that a meeting of civil society groups drew up a communiqué it presented to the Senate Committee on Health, requesting the legislature to prevail on the executive to ensure major health issues such as routine immunisation, family planning, childhood killer diseases and nutrition—get top priority in government’s agenda.
However, Save the Children Nigeria, a member of the coalition, said necessary support would help address factors that contribute to malnutrition in the country.
Towards this end, an Advocacy Advisor for Save the Children, Dr Olayinka Adekugbe, canvassed for more knowledge and awareness on malnutrition.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, said at least 300,000 Nigerian children are likely to die this year from malnutrition if government and stakeholders fail to provide intervention fund to save their lives.
Chief of Nutrition at UNICEF, Arjan de Waqt, while addressing a town hall meeting on nutrition in Abuja, said an estimated 1.6 million children are at risk of moderate malnutrition without any timely intervention.
“We have become deaf to these numbers. We have accepted these numbers. We don’t find it strange, unless it is your child, then it is no more a number. At least 280,000 of them don’t have to die, if you give them ready-to-use-therapeutic food and you need government support for that,” he hinted.
UNICEF complained that government has done nothing to fund or implement its nutrition policy, two years after it was passed.
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and Dangote Foundation on January 21 announced a combined commitment of $100 million to help Nigeria tackle malnutrition.
The $100 million fund pledge is expected to be used over the next five years between 2016-2020, targeted to end malnutrition in Nigeria.
The fund would be expended on at least five million families to improve their lives by 2020.

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