Malnutrition and unhealthy dietary practices create unique threats to health – Osinbajo

The Vice President of Nigeria, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo said “Malnutrition and unhealthy dietary practices create unique threats to health and productivity for generation after generation,” as such Nigeria has to act fast to develop a sustainable food system as it faces a population growth that is “handsomely” ahead of its economic growth figures.

Osinbajo said  the need to create a food system that works “has never been more urgent and more existential” as the country’s poverty levels has worsened particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout. He made the declaration while making a key note remark at the United Nations Food Systems Summit (UNFSS).

 The Summit was organized by the Government of Nigeria in collaboration with the United Nations system in Nigeria. The dialogue, tagged, ‘Inception Dialogue’, aimed at identifying food systems challenges from multiple perspectives; highlighting priority actions for Nigeria’s Food Systems and providing pathways to ensuring resilient and sustainable food systems in Nigeria by 2030.

The Food Systems Dialogue is required to improve nutrition security, reduce hunger and prevalence of malnutrition in line with the national food and nutrition policy for Nigeria. It will also create more inclusive, healthier food systems, encourage a collaborative approach towards building a sustainable food system and enhance the achievement of the sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Vice President described the dialogue as a crucial dialogue that should be all encompassing in order for Nigerians, policy makers and key stakeholders to benefit maximally. He is acknowledges that malnutrition plays a key role in the health of the people. In his words, “Malnutrition and unhealthy dietary practices create unique threats to health and productivity for generation after generation

He said the dialogue will help to raise global awareness and shape global commitments towards mobilising food systems, so as to address hunger, reduce diet related diseases and strengthen primary health systems across boards.

Prof Osinbajo said that it is a significant challenge to produce enough food for a rapidly growing population, especially given the changes required in modernization of farming practices, mechanization, and reduction of post-harvest losses. According to him,“But there are also questions around ensuring environmentally sustainable production practices, creating empowering jobs and livelihoods, and building capacities to ensure sustainable and healthy food systems,”.

In her own remarks, the minister for Finance, Budget and National Planning, Zainab Ahmed, said the Nigerian government has shown a clear commitment to the eradication of malnutrition in recent years.

She said that the federal government has shown commitment towards malnutrition eradication through the adoption and domestication of policies and significant strategic plans, which emphasise increased reliance on domestic funding.

Also, she said this commitment is happening through a well coordinated multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholders approach (comprising government, CSOs, private sector and donors), and are backed by sustained high-level political commitment.

“These include the National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition, the National Policy on Food and Nutrition, the innovative National Social Investment Programme (which includes the Home-Grown School Feeding Programme), the Basic Health Care Provision Fund, and the National Council on Nutrition, and the development of various food and nutrition sector plans,” she said.

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