By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
Nutrition Society of Nigeria has said that the country can improve nutrition intervention outcomes with evidence-based data generation and dissemination.
The 50th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), largest gathering of stakeholders in Nutrition in Nigeria started on Tuesday in Kaduna with a call for the prioritization of data generation and dissemination as a means for improving the outcomes of the various nutrition interventions across the country.
This year’s Conference, which is the first Hybrid meeting of the society that combines physical and virtual format, aims to promote and foster the study and practice of nutrition in its widest sense, and provide a common forum for Nutritionists and Public Health professionals to liaise and co-operate with universities, research institutes, government departments, national commissions, corporate organisations and other similar bodies for the exchange of professional and other relevant information in the promotion of Nutrition, and National Development.Dr. Bartholomew Brai, President, Nutrition Society of Nigeria emphasized this in his welcome address.
Dr. Brai who stressed the aptness of the theme of this year’s conference- Improving Nutrition Intervention Outcomes in Nigeria through Evidence-based Nutrition Data Generation and Dissemination, said the theme was chosen to “refocus attention and efforts on the need to generate credible data from surveys and researches as well as effectively disseminate same in such a manner that could inform and influence policies.”
According to the NSN President, Nigeria is in dire need of improved nutrition action to solve the problem of acute hunger and malnutrition across the country which he said has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are having this conference in the middle of a pandemic, the impact of which has been all-encompassing. From overburdened healthcare facilities, to weakened economic activities, the pandemic has made us more vulnerable. More than seven million Nigerians were said to have suffered from acute hunger in the second quarter of this year alone, This situation has amplified the need for improved nutrition action in the country,” Dr, Brai said.
“We are in an era in which food, and more importantly, evidence based nutrition interventions are more essential than ever,” he stated. Dr. Olutayo Adeyemi of the Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, University of Ibadan, in her key note delivered to the Conference on Tuesday said Nigeria was yet to key into the call for nutrition data revolution made over three years ago.
While lamenting the inconsistent data flow on nutrition, Dr Adeyemi said the academia provides an opportunity for Nigeria to bridge the nutrition intervention gaps using evidence-based data management.
“Currently, adequate data on nutrition is not being collected, and in cases where they are collected, the time lag is usually too wide,” she said.
In her recommendation for the academia, Dr. Adeyemi said, “The academia can provide leadership for implementing coordinated nutrition data strategies across institutions, sectors, and partners, to meet policy and programme needs, institute measures to harmonize nutrition data across subnational levels and invest in capacity strengthening.
According to her, this could help foster a culture of data use and help disseminate knowledge and experience.
She said there is a need for the establishment of a food data consortium in Nigeria.
“We need a data revolution but that which can stand over time,” Dr. Adeyemi concluded.
The 2020 NSN AGM and Scientific conference, a meeting of professional, non-governmental association founded in 1963 at the University of Ibadan, Oyo State kicks-started on Monday with a pre-conference skills building workshop comprising of four major sessions dwelling on data visualization and management as tools for empowering decision making and advocacy in Nigeria.
Session 1, anchored by Charles Nkwoala, Michael Okpara University of Agriculture, Umudike focused on Overview of data visualization and management.
Session 2 focused Nutrition data collection tools and data management by National Bureau of Statistics, Abuja, while session 3 on Data visualization tools for nutrition : Empowering decision-makers to accelerate progress was anchored by Yashodhara Rana, and Caroline Snead of the Results for Development.
The fourth session: Making better figures: Visualizing Nutrition Data for Action was anchored byTricia Aung MSPH of Johns Hopkins University, Maryland, USA.