The Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Zainab Ahmed, says the policies and strategies to tackle malnutrition must be well funded and data driven.
In her opening remarks at the dialogue on the United Nations’ (UN) food system summit on Tuesday, she also called for sustainable approaches to addressing malnutrition in order to ensure transparency and accountability.
Ahmed noted that Nigeria had seen some improvements in recent years, especially in the areas of child nutrition and breast feeding.
In order for the improvements to yield results, she said malnutrition and other public health issues must be addressed through the implementation of innovative policies and strategies.
She reiterated the federal government’s commitment to tackling food insecurity and malnutrition across Nigeria.
The minister also noted that the implementation of the National Food Summit Dialogue was critical to the achievement of the Medium-Term National Development Plan (MTNDP) and Nigeria’s Agenda 2050.
she stated that the output of various food dialogues would form a critical component for the conclusion of the MTNDP and Nigeria Agenda 2050, and would, as well, contribute to the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) in Nigeria.
Speaking on the essence of the Nigeria National Food Systems Dialogues (NNFSD), Ahmed said, “The NNFSD is required to improve nutrition security, reduce hunger and prevalence of malnutrition in line with the national food and nutrition policy for Nigeria.
“It is envisioned to create more inclusive, healthier food systems and encourage a collaborative approach towards building a sustainable food system.
“In recent years, Nigeria has shown a clear commitment to the eradication of malnutrition. This is happening through the adoption and domestication of policies and strategic plans, which emphasise increased reliance on domestic funding; and a well-coordinated multi-sectoral and multi-stakeholders’ approach (comprising government, CSOs, private sector and donors); backed by sustained high-level political commitment,” she said.
She added, “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.”
“Further, we must continue to work collaboratively across the federal and state governments, and hand-in-hand with the private sector, and development partners. This is particularly true given the dual impact of COVID-19 and the drop in crude oil prices,” she added.
The minister noted that government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari was swift and people-oriented.