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

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