A group, the Civil Society-Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), says it is collaborating with the Kwara Government to reduce high rate of malnutrition among infants and pregnant women in the state.
Mrs Jane Egemonye, the Senior Monitoring and Evaluation Officer for CS-SUNN, said this during the group’s advocacy visit to the Kwara Ministries of Health, and Planning and Economic Development in Ilorin.
It also engages governments and mobilises non-state actors to advocate relevant policies, funding, programme implementation and build capacity of local communities to scale-up nutrition.
Egemonye, while presenting the Kwara policy brief on nutrition to the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, Alhaji Abdulazeez Oyelowo, said the state was presently home to a large population of malnourished children and pregnant women.
The CS-SUNN official said the latest report by the National Nutrition Health Survey (NNHS) indicated that the state has under-5 mortality rate of 45 deaths per 1,000 live births and an infant mortality rate of 40 per 1,000 live births.
According to her, nutrition as an essential component of well-being, had over the years, been receiving less attention by the state government.
“Kwara State Government’s investments in the key nutrition interventions have been very poor between 2015 and 2018.
“Most times despite budgetary allocation, little or no funds are released.
“It has been observed that even when government expands the size of the state budget, the budget for nutrition specific interventions do not follow the trajectory.
“Also, 32.5 per cent of children under-five are stunted, 7.0 per cent are too thin for their ages, 19.9 per cent are underweight and only 35.7 per cent of children less than six months are exclusively breastfed in the state,’’ she said.
Mr Ambrose Evhoesor, SC-SUNN Project Officer, said the advocacy visit was part of the collaboration aimed at finding lasting solution to the menace of malnutrition prevalence in the state, especially among children under five years.
Evhoesor described the ministry as very strategic and in vantage position to make the collaboration a huge success.
He, therefore, solicited the cooperation of the ministry in the area of having a robust planning and modalities for scaling up nutrition activities in the state.
Responding, the permanent secretary, ministry of planning and economic development, identified inadequate resources as a major factor affecting the full implementation of most of the government’s policies and programmes.
Oyelowo described the advocacy visit as very timely as the state was witnessing political leadership transition.
According to him, it will afford the ministry the opportunity to put forward necessary recommendations for the incoming administration.
He said the issues of inadequate budgetary allocation and release of funds were not peculiar to nutrition alone as they were already receiving the attention of concerned authorities.
Oyelowo commended the group for the partnership and its foresight, urging it to maintain the tempo.