Paul Obiajunwo, PortHarcourt
Media and nutrition experts yesterday called on Rivers State governor Chief Ezenwo Nyesom Wike to pay serious attention on the lives of women and children in the state by taking a proactive action to increase nutrition budget of the state.
They said malnutrition and diet are by far the biggest risk factors for the global burden of disease, adding that every country is facing a serious public health challenge from malnutrition.
This was disclosed in Port Harcourt at the one day media executives’ engagement support on investment and support for nutrition program, organized by Rivers State Broadcasting Cooperation in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
The theme of the event was,” Investing in Maternal and Child Nutrition for the Future.
Both Prof, Alice Nte, Paulinus Nsirim, Felix Odungweru, Ngozi Onuora and other speakers at the event agreed that there is need to increase budget lines of nutrition in the state and for the media to create more awareness to attract the attention of the policy makers .
They also called on UNICEF to collaborate with non –governmental aorganistaion particularly the media as to provide accurate data on issues affecting children and women in the society rather than allowing the media men to be exaggerating on figures while reporting.
The speakers noted that Poverty and inequality, water, sanitation and hygiene, education, food systems, climate change, social protection, and agriculture all have an important impact on nutrition outcomes.
UNICEF Chief of Field Officer, Mr. Wilbroad Ngambi, said the economic consequences represent losses of 11 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) every year in Africa and Asia, whereas preventing malnutrition delivers $16 in returns on investment for every $1 spent.
Ngambi said there is need for Rivers State to increase its budge lines for nutrition because many children are dying on daily basis due to malnutrition, adding that he prefer to celebrate any government official who is being called Mr. Nutrition than Mr. Project.
He noted that the world’s countries have agreed on targets for nutrition, but despite some progress in recent years the world is off track to reach those targets.
“ it is not just to increase the budge lines for nutrition but to release the fund, journalist are not asking question when they meet with policy makers. You need to ask them what is happening with your nutrition budget, what have you achieve in this regards.
“We want Nigeria and every state to achieve 40 percent reduction in the number of children under 5 who are stunted. Achieve a 50 percent reduction of anemia in women of reproductive age, achieve 30 percent reduction in low birth weight. Experience no increase in overweight in children under 5 years and achieve 30 percent reduction in low birth weight.”