Nigeria: working to improve nutrition in the Giant of Africa

A recent seminar, hosted by the King’s College London International Development Institute and the ORIE Consortium, explored the opportunities and challenges facing efforts to improve nutrition outcomes in Africa’s most populous country. Malnutrition remains a major health and development issue in Nigeria and contributes to as much as 50% of under-five mortality in the country. Nigeria has attempted to address the issue of malnutrition by developing a costed national food and nutrition policy plan of action, which is currently under review, and a multi-sectoral Nutrition Partners Platform to drive and coordinate commitment and action.  However, low public funding for nutrition and a challenging federalised system of governance are considerable challenges.

UNICEF is an implementing partner, along with Save the Children and Action Against Hunger, of a five year £50 million UK Aid funded Working to Improve Nutrition in Northern Nigeria (WINNN) programme, which is seeking to improve the nutritional status of 6.2 million children under five years of age across five states.

WINNN delivers a comprehensive package of nutrition interventions. It is integrated within existing routine health services such as antenatal and postnatal care, and child health week campaigns. It is decentralised to primary health care facilities and at the community level to build upon successful health week campaigns and maternal and child health programmes

The presentations gave an analysis of the nutrition situation in Nigeria and explored programme implementation, current challenges and opportunities, and potential areas of collaboration.

The following video was recorded at the event of Dr. Christopher Isokpunwu:

Dr Chris is the Head of Nutrition for the Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria. A graduate of Medicine and Surgery from the University of Benin, Nigeria, Dr. Isokpunwu is the Chairman of the Nutrition Partners Forum which is the multisectoral coordinating platform for nutrition in Nigeria and the Country Focal Person for the Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement. He previously served as the National Coordinator of the National Obstetric Fistula Programme and has been involved in the development of policies, guidelines, strategic plans and programmes for maternal and child health for several years. He has spoken in various national and international fora including the 2013 International Conference on Nutrition of the International Union of Nutrition Scientists (IUNS) held in Granada, Spain.

Mr. Stanley Chitekwe also recorded a short video:

Stanley is the Chief of Nutrition for UNICEF Nigeria. He joined the Nigeria office in January 2010 from the UNICEF office in Malawi where he was working as a Nutrition manager. Prior to working in Malawi he worked in Eritrea with UNICEF as Nutrition in Emergency officer.  He started his career in UNICEF as Assistant Project Officer Nutrition in his home country Zimbabwe.  He holds a Master of Medical Science degree in Human Nutrition, University of Sheffield in UK, and a postgraduate Diploma in Epidemiology from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine (UK) and a Bachelor of Science (Hons.) in Biochemistry from the University of Zimbabwe. In Nigeria he has led the scale up of Community Management of Acute Malnutrition, vitamin A supplementation, Zinc and ORS to treat diarrhoea, iron folate supplementation for pregnant women, and Infant and Young Child Feeding. He has worked with CIFF to develop the CMAM Scale Up programme in Nigeria and is currently overseeing its implementation. He has also worked with DFID, EU, ECHO. and the Government of  Japan. During his time in Zimbabwe, Eritrea and in Malawi he also managed Sugar fortification, monitoring use of iodized salt, and management of malnutrition for individuals on ART, leading the Nutrition Development partners group, and carrying out a National Micronutrient Survey.

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