The Civil Society Scaling-up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) has appealed to the Lagos state government to bridge the N21 billion annual budget deficit required to treat severe acute malnutrition (SAM) amongst children in the state.
Mr Sunday Okoronkwo, Acting Executive Secretary, CS-SUNN, made the call at the launch of the Lagos State Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition on Wednesday, in Lagos.
Okoronkwo said that investment in nutrition enhances human capital and boosts shared responsibility, citing malnutrition as manifesting in various forms, including stunting, wasting and obesity.
He said that the National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2018 report showed that 6.6 per cent of under-five children in Lagos were suffering from wasting.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), wasting is when children are too thin for their height and their immune systems weak, leaving them vulnerable to developmental delays, disease and possible death.
Okoronkwo noted that there were 4,910, 641 under five children in the state, with 324,102 suffering from severe wasting.
He said that the cost of treatment for severe wasting for a child had been estimated at $160 dollars (N65, 920), which includes the cost of Ready-to-Use therapeutic food, routine medicine, training, among others.
Okoronkwo said that the amount to provide treatment for the total number of children suffering from SAM in the state was N21,364,803,840, noting that the current annual spending of the state Ministry of Health was N60,100, 000, and the state Primary Health Care Board five million naira.
He stressed that the amount was grossly inadequate, against the background of studies which had shown that children with SAM had seven months to either survive or die, due to their critical condition.
Okoronkwo said that immediate intervention was required to save the lives of more children, and that the government would need the support of the private sector and philanthropists to bridge the funding gap.
He commended the state government’s approval of the Food and Nutrition policy and Strategic Plan of Action, noting that effective implementation would boost the state’s nutrition indices.
The plan, he added, would also be used to galvanise assistance from partners to support government bridge the funding gap, thus eradicating malnutrition in the state.
Responding, Mr Sam Egube, Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, said that the fight against malnutrition in the state could be won through collective efforts.
Egube said that collaborating with the government would ensure that all citizens were food and nutrition secured in all households and communities.
The policy on food and nutrition, he noted, would also assist address the challenges of malnutrition and extreme hunger across the state.
“The Policy and its multi-sectoral Plan of Action will strengthen synergy among public and private sectors, development partners, to collaborate and get involved in the implementation of activities towards eradicating malnutrition in our state,” he said.
He noted that adequate food and nutrition was globally recognised to yield high economic returns, thus appealed to stakeholders to collaborate with government to eradicate malnutrition in the state.
Also, Prof. Oluwatosin Adu, former Chairman, Nutrition Society of Nigeria, Lagos, said that the whole citizens of the state needed good nutrition.
Adu said that the plan would give direction to achieving the goal of every citizen being adequately nourished and productive, to contribute meaningfully to the state’s development.
He expressed optimism that the plan would be effectively implemented to achieve the desired goal of eradicating malnutrition in the state.