Save the Children International, Nigeria, in partnership with Federal Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning have called on journalists to beam search light on increased reportage of nutrition issues in Nigeria.
They made the call at a training organised for journalists to sensitise and build their capacity on nutrition reporting in Nigeria as part of activities held to mark the 2020 Nutrition Week in Abuja.
The aim is to raise awareness of journalists on food security and nutrition topics in Nigeria and to raise awareness of the impact of malnutrition on the country’s health and economic wellbeing.
Mr Abdulkadir Sa’adu, the Director Social Development Department Ministry of Finance, Budget and National Planning said that the training was a necessity for journalists to keep abreast with nutrition issues.
Sa’adu said that ministry in collaboration with Nutrition and Society of Nigeria (NSN) and relevant nutrition stakeholders since 2016 had been organising nutrition week to encourage healthy living through nutrition education and creating public awareness.
“The week is also a national platform to address nutrition issues affecting young children, adolescents, adults and elderly as well as nutrition in emergency situation.
“At the end of the training, the media will acquire new knowledge on nutrition, disseminate correct nutrition information to the public as well as become nutrition champions, ‘’he said.
Mrs. Toyin Gabriel, Policy and Advocacy Adviser, Alive and Thrive said it was imperative to bring journalists on board on issues about nutrition so they could sensitise Nigerians to healthy living.
Gabriel said this was because so many Nigerians lived or fed wrongly mostly depending on artificial food, especially for babies.
“Statistics show that Nigeria is the second consumer of infant formula after China so there is need for the media to create awareness on the importance of breastfeeding,’’ she said.
Gabriel said that proper breastfeeding for babies would avert deaths and build healthy children that would in turn benefit the nation.
She therefore called on the media to write human interest stories to promote breastfeeding provide useful information on nutrition, help in dispelling myths about breastfeeding and supporting accurate reportage.
She also urged journalists to do budget tracking, fact check reports and allocate dedicated airtime and pages to nutrition reports as ways of creating awareness among others.
Mrs. Chimay Thompson, a consultant with the Ministry of Health said that malnutrition and nutrition-related issues continued to be of public health concern in Nigeria.
Thompson said that it manifested itself mainly as under nutrition, over nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies.
She identified two major forms of under nutrition assault on the Nigerian child.
She also identified chronic malnutrition on stunting whereby the child has low height compared to age.
Thompson however said that investing in nutrition would promote growth and development ‘’because malnutrition has a high economic and health cost and a return of 16 dollars for every one dollar invested.
She said that early nutrition programmes could increase school completion by one year and raise adult wages, adding that it children who escape stunting were more likely to escape poverty.
Gabriel said that investing in nutrition and a reduction in stunting could increase Gross Domestic Product of Nigeria among others.
She however said that funding, accountability coordination, service delivery and capacity building were some of the challenges hampering nutrition in Nigeria.