Friday, 30 October 2009

PRESS RELEASE: Nutrition may hold key to saving the lives of mothers and children in Nigeria


Nutrition may hold key to saving the lives of mothers and children in Nigeria

Lagos, 30 October, 2009 -- Food insecurity and lack of access to basic health services are the major factors causing high level of malnutrition in Nigeria especially among women and children who are the most vulnerable. This was the submission of experts to the issues and nutritional challenges facing maternal, newborn and child health in Nigeria at a one day workshop organized by Alltech Nutrients Limited, World Initiative for Soy in Human Health (WISHH), United States for Agriculture and National Institute for Food Science and Technology to proffer solution to the state of nutrition in the communities of Nigeria.

The stakeholders at the event, at Protea Hotel Ikeja, Lagos, include nutritionists, bakers, media and various organisations who together examined the possibility of soy in reducing the 60% child mortality due to malnourishment and achieving the millennium development goals. Soybean and soy products contains adequate nutrients such as protein-energy, fats, vitamins and other micro-nutrients that can combat the high cases of ill-growth indicated in stunting (height for weight); wasting (weight for height) or under-weight (age for weight) constrasts.

Among the several issues raised include the availability of soybean in Nigerian markets; how to inculcate the benefits of soy into the frequently taken Nigerian meals such as loaves of bread and the various nutritional combination soy can be made available in local meals. Professor Isaac Akinyele, Head of Department - Human Nutrition University of Ibadan who served as the chairman of the workshop stated that “once a young girl is stunted at age 3, she can never give birth to a normal child, which makes this issue an inter-generational issue, a silent emergency”. In the same vein, president of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology (NIFST), Professor Isaac Adebayo Adeyemi said “there is a need to incorporate alternative strategies different from conventional methods to address malnutrition. Soyabeans, as we all know, are grown in many parts of the world and are a primary source of vegetable oil and protein for use in food”. He also shed lights on the pending bill that will enable Nigerian Council of Food Science and Technology to, among others, protect and uphold professional standards and competence in the practice of food science and technology to sustain the dignity accorded to the profession worldwide.”

Dr. Akinloye Afolabi, Country Coordinator Infant and Young Child Nutrition Project, from the University of Agriculture, Abeokuta affirmed that resources must be available to effectively reduce malnutrition through innovative approaches to resource mobilization from all sectors and levels including --- government, community, development partners,private sector and civil societies, He reiterated that ownership the programme should be encouraged through community participation, efficient communication and information system as well as entrenching a sustainability plan from the onset.

He advocated for an efficient coordination mechanism encompassing the institutionalization of a national coordinating mechanism, inter agency coordination and collaboration and effective partnership building



Femi Amele

Friday, 9 October 2009



Journalists receive grants to investigate needless deaths of women, newborn and children in Nigeria

Lagos-09 October, 2009 -- Grants have been awarded to five Nigerian journalists to explore issues surrounding the needless deaths of women and children in Nigeria. Winners of the 2009 grant for “Investigative Report on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health” announced today in Lagos would investigate circumstances surrounding the death of about 145 women everyday, due to complications of pregnancy and child birth, as well as the over 1.0 million under five who die in Nigeria annually.

Among several entries that cut across both print and electronic mediums, the five recipients were awarded the investigative grants based on their outstanding entries and relevance to addressing the challenges of women and children under the MDGs 1, 4, 5 and 7, Development Communications Network, organizers of the grant stated. An award, open to all other work by journalists in Nigeria, for best stories on maternal, newborn and child health issues would be given by the Well Being Foundation (WBF), at an International Forum on Child Rights coming up in November 2009 in Ilorin, Kwara State.

Founder of WBF and wife of the Executive governor of Kwara State, Mrs Toyin Saraki explains that journalists are important in the dissemination of empirical and factual information that could lead to improvement of the health of women and children in Nigeria. “Journalists need to be encouraged in this bid,” she asserted.

With institutional support and commitment from their media organizations each of the five (5) recipients are to investigate unique story angles as follows:
• Abiose Adelaja of Next Newspapers -- {To explore the state of Primary Health Centres in rural areas and their role in maternal and child health care};
• Godwin Haruna of Thisday Newpaper {Vesico Virgina Fistula as a key contributor to infirmities in maternal health};
• Ibrahim Apekhade Yusuf of The Nation {Would explore communities examining how poverty remains a metaphor of existences with linkages to maternal and child health};
• Iliya Kure of Federal Radio Corporation of Nigeria, Kaduna {Would evaluate the effectiveness of the Free Maternal and child health care services being offered in Kaduna and a number of other Northern states}; and
• Vivienne Irikefe of Silverbird Television {Would explore the problem of malaria as an environmental issue and linkages to maternal, newborn & child healthcare issues in Sagbokoji and Bishop Kodji island two riverside communities across the seas in Lagos}.

The clarity of their entry, depth in discussing the issue at hand and ability to point vividly to the problem to be addressed through their intended story ideas have made it possible for them to meet with the high and in-depth criteria of the panel. More so, the innovation in the news angle of their story idea made them stand out.

Sola Ogundipe, Health Editor at the Vanguard, one of the judges, commented on the entries describing the recipients as having “an impressive understanding of the issues. It is clear they know what to do and how to go about it.” Lekan Otufodunrin, Sunday Editor of The Nation Newspapers commended the effort describing the story ideas as “well articulated.” Sele Eradiri from the Nigeria Television Authority (NTA) hope the grant would further raise editorial analysis on issues concerning women and children.

The investigative report grant is a N75, 000 cash prize that will aid each journalist to investigate their story without constraint in carrying out the necessary field investigation. The grant was awarded on Friday, 9th October, 2009, at Development Communications (Devcoms) Network, Lagos, by 11:00am.

The grant is part of commitment to reducing the high rate of women and child death, and is supported by the Ford Foundation project on “Strengthening mass media advocacy on improved national response to the poor maternal health situation in Nigeria.” Everyday Nigeria loses about 145 women due to complications of pregnancy and child birth while over 1.0 million children would die before their fifth birthday annually in the country.

Devcoms received the ONE Africa Award 2008 based on this innovative work with journalists that has created national awareness and a gradual response to the needless deaths of women and children in the country.