A consortium of Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) has reached out to presidential candidates of some political parties on increased funding for nutrition programmes in their policies.
The CSOs said this would help in addressing the issue of infant and child mortality rates in Nigeria.
Mrs Lovelyn Agbor-Gabriel, Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) said the advocacy visit to presidential candidates was to raise awareness on the huge burden of malnutrition that was prevalent among Nigerian children.
Agbor-Gabriel said malnutrition had become a huge challenge in combating child related diseases and deaths adding that more than 1,560 children die every day in Nigeria from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea, pneumonia, and malaria.
“We are just talking about severe acute malnutrition. The focus is on the entire nutrition programmes, no child should be malnourished at all before we start talking about treatment.
“This is a political season, in less than a month there will be a presidential election and by tomorrow there will be a presidential debate.
“ We want to draw the attention of the political parties and their candidates to this issue because they have great influence on what happens when elections are finally over,’’ she said.
She said it was very important for them to understand the issues before they assume office; and include them in their agenda.
Mr Edosa Eviawe, representative of the International Society of Media in Public Health, one of the organisers of the programme, said a healthy child was the guarantee to a healthy future.
Eviawe said if government and stakeholders failed to pay attention to the nutritional needs of children, then the future of Nigeria was being jeopardised.
“It behoves on every one of us, especially policy makers and political office seekers, to know that for the country to be a healthy nation we can all be proud of, we must prioritise child health,’’ he said.
Mr Bolaji Abdullahi, Director, Community Strategy of Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential Campaign Organisation, who received the group, said the PDP presidential candidate had maintained that children and young people were his best asset.
“If you do not feed children properly, you cannot hope to educate them; the issue of feeding is not just a matter of health but also a matter of developing a child cognitive capacity,’’ Abdullahi said.
He therefore assured the group that child health intervention would remain a priority of the PDP.
He also promised that if the PDP won the February presidential election, it would work with the group to ensure that the issue of malnutrition was no longer a challenge in Nigeria.
Similarly, Mr Fela Durotoye, the Presidential Candidate of Alliance for New Nigeria (ANN) promised to work with the group to address the challenges if he won the election.
Mr James Onimisi who received the group on behalf of the Presidential Candidate of the Allied Congress Party of Nigeria (ACPN) Oby Ezekwesili, promised to relay the information to his principal.