By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
Worried about the rising effects of malnutrition in Nigeria, the Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) has called on the Federal 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.
Executive Secretary of CS-SUNN, Sunday Okoronkwo, who made the call in Abuja, on Thursday, at a Media Roundtable on ‘Reset Nutrition for Human Capital Development in Nigeria” explained that the country has the highest number of stunted under-five aged children in Sub-Saharan African and the second highest number of stunted children in the world, making malnutrition a significant public health problem in the country.
He noted that 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, stressing that 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.
He stated 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.
Okoronkwo, disclosed that over the past 3 years, its efforts have contributed to increase in budgetary allocation for nutrition. However, allocations are still low and releases abysmal, adding that current investments in proven nutritional intervention are still inadequate compared to the magnitude of the problem.
He called for innovative ways of financing nutrition programming at all levels including increase in domestic funding, saying 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.
“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”, He added.
Okoronkwo, expressed worries that Nigeria will not meet its HCD vision which will contribute to attaining the SDGs by 2030 if nutrition is not prioritized.
According to the Executive Secretary, CS-SUNN is working to improve accountability within the country’s nutrition systems through quarterly review of interventions and achievements in the nutrition environment.
“CS-SUNN commends the government of Nigeria for setting up the Nigerian Human Capital Investment (HCI) Committee and Core Working Group (CWG) in 2018. The CWG set a Human Capital Development (HCD) vision for “Healthy, Educated and Productive Nigerians for a globally competitive nation by 2030” with an overall target of 24 million additional healthy (under-five year old children surviving and not stunted), educated (completing secondary school) and productive (youth entering the labour force) Nigerians by 2030.
“The alliance is currently making efforts to digitize and implement the appraisal tool designed in PINNS 1.0 (the appraisal tool measures coordination and resource mobilization functions among MDAs towards improved implementation of the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition- the tool is now owned by the Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning) and will build the capacity of desk officers to complete and generate nutrition data reports electronically for timely evidence-based decision making in Nigeria”, CS-SUNN said.
“The alliance, restates her commitment to advancing Nigeria’s nutrition agenda for improved nutritional status of women, children and vulnerable groups which will contribute to attaining the country’s HCD targets. Currently, CS-SUNN is implementing the Partnership for Improving Nigeria Nutrition Systems 2.0 (PINNS-2.0) project.
“The PINNS-2.0 project surmises that when government sustainably commits to improving nutrition through strong nutrition governance, it will ensure data for planning and decision making is routinely available and that adequate domestic financing is made available to effectively deliver on nutrition services. The outcome will be a well-nourished child who grows up to become a major contributor to growing the country’s Gross Domestic Product, thus aligning to the country’s HCD objectives.” He explained.
While acknowledging the role of media in propagating nutrition, it said the media is a critical ally in advancing nutrition and HCD in Nigeria, urging the media to uphold accurate and balanced reporting of nutrition issues that will propel decision makers to take actions to playing their respective roles towards improve nutrition.