… approves counterpart funding for nutrition interventions.
The Enugu state government under the leadership of Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi accentuate moves to curb malnutrition and stunting in maternal, infant, young children and adolescent by approving counterpart funding for nutrition interventions in the state.
Governor Ugwuanyi represented by his Deputy, Hon. Mrs. Cecilia Ezeilo in an opening speech during the First Coordination Meeting with Partners and Stakeholders on Nutrition held at Nike Lake Resort in Enugu; noted that the State under this present administration has a functional State Council which was inaugurated in 2019 and also a developed validated Multi-sectoral Plan for Nutrition adopted from the National policy with the sole aim of improving the nutritional status of mothers, adolescent and young children. In his words, “the State government is eager to give attention to all priority areas in order to urgently reverse the deteriorating nutritional status among the under-five children in the state”.
In his welcome address, the Honourable Commissioner for Budget and Planning who’s Ministry coordinates the State Committee on Food and Nutrition (SCFN) a Multi-sectoral Committee, Hon. David Ugwunta Ph.D. remarked that the State Government has done so much to curb malnutrition in the state. He recalled that in a bid to boost nutrition, His Excellency, Rt, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi in the year 2020 amongst others inaugurated the SCFN; adopted and domesticated the national policy on nutrition and validated the state multi-sectoral action plan on nutrition as well as approved a matching counterpart fund thereby ranking Enugu state among the first five states in the federation that has made commitment in more than one areas in nutrition. Dr. Ugwunta also noted that the high level engagement meeting will avail all stakeholders and partners the opportunity to collectively pin-point the challenges facing the fight against malnutrition and proffer ways to tackling them.
Speaking at the event, the UNICEF Chief Field Officer Enugu, Mrs. Juliet Chiluwe stated that out of 985,443 children in Enugu state, about 45% of all deaths of under 5 children are linked to malnutrition whereas 147,000 (which is 15%) are stunted, 581,411 children are anemic. Hence, the essence of the meeting tagged, “Prioritizing Investment in Maternal, Infant and Young Child, Adolescent Nutrition and the PARSNIP Project” is to chart course with relevant stakeholders on the need to see that the first 1000 days of every child is laden with all the required nutrients needed for the proper development of that every child. She emphasized that this can be made possible with both international assistance and partnership with stakeholders to distribute Multi-vitamins and Micronutrients to mothers and children between 0-5years.
In the same vein, the Executive Secretary Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. George Ugwu reiterated that although Enugu State is reported to have 15% in stunting, it is not the worst as it is recorded to be 91% and second best in the whole country in nutrition. Dr. Ugwu added that there is need to sensitize nursing mothers in the State on the benefit of exclusive breastfeeding. He submitted that most of the nursing mothers give their babies water while doing exclusive breastfeeding thus defeating the goal of the practice. He further stated that the State government would employ more nurses and midwives to step up the sensitisation process on maternal/infant nutrition.
Similarly, the Honourable Commissioner for Health, Dr. Ikechukwu Obi stressed the importance of health promotion as a vital role played by the government in changing the narrative. In his words, “health promotion is an enablement of individuals, families and communities to be able to take control over the determinants of their health”. He further urged partners to join hands with the government, partners and institutions to prioritize investments in maternal, infants and child within the first 1000 days of their lives through programmes like PARSNIP to sustainably change the health status of the vulnerable in the communities.
Also at the event, the Director, Head Micronutrients Deficiency Control Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, Chief John Uruakpa commended Enugu State Government for its swift response to curb malnutrition, adding that there is formulated Micro Nutrient Powder (MNP) made available to help stunted children. However, he urged the stakeholders and partners to further extend these nutrition interventions to healthcare centers especially in the rural areas.
Wrapping up the engagement, the Ag. Chairman of the State Committee on Nutrition, Mr. Edwin Anukwe thanked the State government and the partners for their unswerving support towards nutrition course in the state. Present at the programme were top Government Officials, Chairman Council of Traditional Rulers, Hrh. Amb. Igwe Agubuzu, Hon. Hilary Ugwu, Member representing Enugu East Rural in the State Assembly, Prof. Uche Eze, Hon. Commissioner for Education, SPA to the Governor on Agriculture, Engr. Mike Ogbuekwe, Permanent Secretaries, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Mrs. Ngozi Onuorah, World Health Organisation led by Dr. Chika Okoro, Civil Society Organisation Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria led by Mrs Onyinye Mamah, Dr. Edith Okolo, Executive Secretary, Enugu State Agency for Universal Health Coverage, the Academia represented by Prof. Lizzy Ngwu, Members of the Press and others.
By: Chukwuka, Ifunanya Judith
Ministry of Budget and Planning.