Nigeria Fails to Achieve National Target against Malnutrition
Nigeria has failed to achieve its target against malnutrition, as it was recently classified by the Global Nutrition Report among the few nations in the world currently experiencing all three forms of malnutrition in 2018.
According to the Report, Nigeria has a significant number of people that can be said to be suffering from overweight, anaemia and stunting.
The negative score of the country in the global malnutrition report is indicative of the fact that efforts through National Nutrition Policies/Legislation, Strategies, and Initiatives could not deliver expected yields.
Nigeria’s commitment to improving nutrition is outlined in specific policy documents, which are aligned with the government’s Vision 20:2020 and the National Strategic Health Development Plan (2009–2015) namely: National Policy on Food and Nutrition (2013); National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition (2014–2019); National Policy on Infant and Young Child Feeding in Nigeria (2010) and the Agricultural Sector Food Security and Nutrition Strategy.
As outlined in the National Policy on Food and Nutrition and National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition, Nigeria has set the following targets between 2014 and 2018: reduce the number of under-5 children who are stunted by 20 per cent; reduce low birthweight by 15 per cent; ensure no increase in childhood overweight; reduce and maintain childhood wasting to less than 10 per cent; reduce anaemia in women of reproductive age by 50 per cent; and increase exclusive breastfeeding rates in the first six months to at least 50 per cent.
Comprehensive legislation is also in place for the implementation of the International Code of Marketing of Breast Milk Substitutes. The addition of vitamin A to wheat flour, maize meal, vegetable oil, and sugar, as well as the addition of iron, zinc, folic acid, B vitamins, niacin, thiamine, and riboflavin to wheat, are mandated by law. Nigeria received Universal Salt Iodization certification in 2005. In April 2016, Nigeria launched its “Zero Hunger Initiative” to achieve the goal of eliminating undernutrition by 2025— ahead of the 2030 deadline of the UN’s SDGs. The initiative is being convened by the former President of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo.
A multi-sectoral National Committee on Food and Nutrition (NCFN) is chaired and facilitated by the National Planning Commission, which is replicated at the sub-national level as the State Committee on Food and Nutrition.
The Nutrition Division, located in the Department of Family Health in the Federal Ministry of Health, serves as the government body responsible for scaling up nutrition and convening government ministries and departments including the Ministries of Health, Education, Agriculture, Women Affairs, Finance, Information, Science and Technology, and Water Resources, and the Planning Commission.
All relevant ministries are also engaged through the Nutrition Partners Forum, which meets four times a year with external partners including national and international non-governmental organizations, UN agencies, donors, the private sector, and media, to discuss strategy development and decisions relating to funding and nutrition emergencies (Nigeria Federal Ministry of Health, Family Health Department 2014).