Problem Of Malnutrition Hits Front Burner As SCFN Meets In Rivers

Poised to address the problem of malnutrition in Rivers State, the Committee on Food and Nutrition (SCFN) has carefully crafted a policy on food and nutrition with a call on critical stakeholders to ensure its implementation.

The call was made during the 2-day quarterly co-ordination and validation meeting of the policy and Multi-sectoral action plan on food and nutrition by the committee.

During the meeting, the Chairman of SCFN and the Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mbadiwe Maxwell Ichemati had hinted that the essence of the meeting was to ensure that the documents did not remain as drafts but documents that will solve the nutritional needs of the state.

Commending all who contributed in drafting the documents, Mr Ichemati expressed hope that their implementation will improve food and nutrition security in the state and called for the involvement of different governmental bodies, professional bodies,and development partners for effective implementation.

The consultant pedeatrician at the University of Port Harcourt Teaching Hospital, Prof. Alice Nte opined that the engulfing Nutritional crises in the state requires proper execution of the provision sod the policy by all Ministries Departments and Agencies (MDAs).

She stressed the need to make food available in the state especially for children under 5 years of age, school children, adolescents, women and the elderly as they are the vulnerable set.

Prof Nte also asked Government to show commitment to the policy and Multi-sectoral action plan on food and nutrition by releasing funds and supporting its implementation.

The pedeatric consultant who regretted that kwashiokor has resurfaced in Rivers condemned early stopping of breastfeeding and the practice of taking underaged children to school maintaining that breastfeeding should be from birth to 36 months.

On his part, the chief of field office, UNICEF, Dr. Anselem Audu, described malnutrition as a major challenge in Rivers State.

He averred that despite the resources of the state, many households struggle to access nutritious food leading to high rates of malnutrition and hunger adding that the situation is exacerbated by poverty and limited awareness of the importance of adequate nutrition.

Dr Audu further pointed out that the 2 documents which include State Policy on Food and Nutrition, and Multi-sectoral Plan of Action on Food and Nutrition are both necessary to ensure a multi-sectoral approach to tackling the issues of food and nutrition insecurity in the state.

Meanwhile, the state Secretary of SCFN, Mr Gift Buduzhi Oguzor has expressed happiness on the outcome of the job which according to him commenced since 2017, saying that the policy will improve the nutritional well-being of Rivers people especially the most vulnerable.

He noted that the implementation of the policy will raise awareness on malnutrition thereby addressing the food and nutrition insecurity, malnutrition and hunger in the state.

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