The Akwa Ibom government has made a budgetary provision of N59 million in this year’s budget for micro- nutrient supplementation activities as part of a determined effort to fight malnutrition in the state.
According to the National Nutrition and Health Survey carried out in 2015, Akwa Ibom is ranked highest with 24 percent in stunting, 7.4 percent in wasting. 21.4 percent in underweight and 5.3 percent in maternal malnutrition among the states in the south south zone of the country.
Dominic Ukpong, the commissioner of health who made this known during a two-day advocacy/sensitisation meeting with women policy makers and wives of political leaders and on scaling up infant and young child feeding/nutrition intervention in the state expressed concern over the nutritional status of children in the state.
According to him, investments on nutrition have been minimal compared to the scale of the problem adding that mobilising the resources needed to accelerate progress against malnutrition will therefore require that countries, donors, businesses, innovative financing mechanisms and even households must act in solidarity.
“Malnutrition has consequences not only on children but also adults as evidenced in the increasing non communicable nutritional disorders such as diabetes, cancers, heart diseases and others,’’ he said.
Ukpong who thanked UNICEF, the sponsors of the programme for its untiring efforts and contributions towards the improvement of the lives of the people promised that the state government would implement the resolutions and commendations reached at the recently concluded meeting of the National Council on Health which emphasised on ‘improving infant and young child feeding practices through community support groups as well as supporting exclusive breastfeeding through increased maternity leave period for working mothers in the state.’’
In her remarks, Martha Udom Emamuel, wife of the Akwa Ibom State governor who was decorated as the number one nutrition champion in the state lamented that Nigeria is hunted with a high record of under five deaths every year adding that high figure is traceable to malnutrition as the underlying cause of about 53 percent of child deaths in the country.
She disclosed that her pet project, Family Empowerment and Youth Reorientation Programme (FEYReP) has commenced a systematic process of eliminating the prevalence of malnutrition and infant mortality through campaigns, periodical visits and donations of foodstuff, beverages, nutritional packages and drugs to motherless babies homes, children homes, orphanages and prisons in the state “to enrich their dietary menu in anticipation that other Non Governmental Organisations (NGOs0 will follow suit.’’
The wife of the governor who pledged not to disappoint UNICEF in her new role urged prompt release of funds for maternal nutrition, infant and young child feeding practices and interventions at the state, local government and community levels to ensure improvement in the nutrition of children in the state.
Speaking, Bamidele Omotala, a representative of UNICEF reiterated the organisation commitment to championing the right of women and children saying that the formal investiture of the Akwa Ibom State first lady as the number nutrition champion was an indication of the organisation’s desire to address the issues of malnutrition at the highest level saying UNICEF did not make any mistake in the choice of the first lady of the state.
The high point of the ceremony which also had in attendance the commissioner for women affairs, Glory Edet, the commissioner for economic development and manpower, Idorenyin Sunday Udoh, a member of the state house of assembly and other top government officials was the investiture of the wife of the governor as the number one nutrition champion of the state.