Saturday, 22 December 2012

MALNUTRITION: Nigeria: Stakeholders woo private sector in crusade against malnutrition


STAKEHOLDERS are brainstorming in Lagos on getting the private sector to be practically committed to the various initiatives towards tackling malnutrition in the country and boosting prospects of economic development and wellbeing of the people.
The high-level multi-stakeholders’ dialogue is essentially bringing together selected leaders across the food and agriculture value chains to identify practical, cost-effective and sustainable ways to attract investment from the private sector for scaling up nutrition in Nigeria.
In her welcome address at the event organised by the Lagos Business School (LBS) and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), the Dean of LBS, Dr. Enase Okonedo said, “we can’t talk about economic growth without talking about the health of the people”, noting that a healthy population is a crucial factor that drives economic development.
Okonedo, who said about 75 per cent of the Nigerian population suffers malnutrition, stressed the need to ensure healthy workforce that will deliver the high level productivity, which will boost economic growth.
According to her, there is need for both the public and private sectors to jointly tackle malnutrition.
Okonedo said while the public sector should fashion out policies that will facilitate advancement of the vision for healthier workforce, the private sector should key into the vision by investing in projects that will scale up nutrition and also make profit.
The Country Director of GAIN, Mr. Larry Umunna, in his speech, established a link between nutrition and productivity, corroborating Okonedo that nutrition is a critical factor in national development.
In her presentation titled “Nutrition – A Critical Investment in Human and Economic Development”, the President of Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Prof. Ngozi Nnam, took the stakeholders through the basic facts about nutrition as they affect individuals, particularly women and children, noting that any individual whose nutrition falls short of expectation at every stage of growth is not only likely to be afflicted by some attendant diseases, but may not be appreciably productive to make meaningful contribution to national development.
Dr. Chris Isokpunwu of the SUN Focal Point in Nigeria who presented a paper titled “An Overview of the SUN Movement and the Nutrition Situation in Nigeria” defined malnutrition as insufficient, excessive or imbalanced consumption of nutrients, which ranges from under-nutrition to over-nutrition, highlighted the health implications of malnutrition.
The Director General of the Federal Institute of Industrial Research, Oshodi (FIIRO), Dr. Gloria Elemo, took the participants, including representatives of banks and industrialists, through the various researches that have been conducted and products packaged to boost nutrition that the private sector can invest in towards achieving the goal of scaling up nutrition in the country.
Others who were expected to make valuable input are the President, Association of Food Beverages and Tobacco Employers, Chief M.O Daramola, Managing Director of Diamond Bank of Nigeria, Dr. Alex Otti, Managing Director, Flour Mills of Nigeria, Sir Emmanuel Ukpabi, Managing Director of Unilever, Nigeria, Mr. Thabo Mabe and Managing Director of Teragro, Dr. Jide Adedeji.

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