Malnourished Child
Nigeria has been advised to implement, without reservation, the policy on food and nutrition, which has been developed and costed, following the increasing rate of stunting and wasting as a result of malnutrition across the country.

This advice was given in Abuja on Thursday by the Project Director of the Civil Society-Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (S-SUNN), Mrs. Beatrice Eluaka, during a policy dialogue on aligning nutrition policies to the 2017 Budget.

The 2013 National Demographic  Health Survey (NDHS) revealed that about 2-in-5 children in Nigeria are stunted, with rates of stunting varying throughout the country, ranging from 16 percent in the South East and 55 percent in the North West.

The survey also showed that almost 30 percent of Nigerian children are underweight. The percentage of children in Nigeria that are wasted has steadily increased over the last decade, rising from 11 percent in 2003 to 18 percent in 2013.

Eluaka further called for the full implementation of the costed action plan for the National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition (NSPAN) is fully implemented.

While calling for improved funding for nutrition in the 2017 Budget by governments at all levels, Eluaka advocated for the implementation of budget plans for nutrition in the various sectoral ministries.

“What we have been saying is advocating for budget plans for nutrition in the various sectoral ministries recognizing that nutrition is a multi sectoral issue. What we find is that most times there are budget lines and most times the budget lines are not funded, our policy makers said they have recognised the importance of nutrition as a development issue.

“The rate of stunting, which is the rate that is showing us that children are malnourished in an country, has been globally accepted as a measure of country’s development. Even in Nigeria, we are recording a stunting rate of about 37 percent, that means that there is a problem with the rate at which we are developing.

“That is why we are calling on governments at every level to ensure that the policy on food and nutrition that we have developed as well as the costed action plan for the national strategic plan for action for nutrition is fully implemented.

“From our research, we found that the most serious challenge that we have to effective implement this policy is funding. I think what we need to do is to go back to the drawing board,” she said.

Following its findings, the  CS-SUNN, therefore, further advocated for increase funding to the health sector and to make adequate provision for the child  and family health needs of the people in the 2007 Budget and to fully implement the NSPAN by providing adequate funding for plan in the 2017 Budget.

It further called for timely release of funds allocated for nutrition in the ministries of health, agriculture and education in the 2016 budgets and ensure increased accountability/management of released funds and strengthen the monitoring and evaluation of nutrition activities for better service delivery.