Seventy two percent (72%) of children in Nigeria have iron deficiency anemia and this has resulted in poor performance at school, nutrition experts have said.
Speaking during a workshop organized by Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network (SBN) Nigeria in collaboration with Ipsos Healthcare, SBN Nigerian Coordinator, Ms. Uduak Igbeka, explained that iron deficiency is an issue that increases maternal and prenatal mortality.
“There is high prevalence of iron deficiency (anemia) in women of reproductive age – Forty nine percent (49%) and this causes dizziness, drowsiness, shortages of breath and fatigue”, she said.
Explaining further on the issue of malnutrition, she said thirty three percent (33%) of children under 5years are stunted meaning they are at a low height for their age. “Eight percent (8%) of children under five years (5years) are wasted, meaning that they have low weight for their height. Annually, Nigeria loses over US$ 1.5 billion in GDP to vitamin and mineral deficiencies”, she added.
According to her, the vision of SBN is to find the solutions required to reduce malnutrition through business, markets and people, by tapping into the potentials of the private sector and recruiting members to join the network. She emphasized the roles and commitments of SBN in ensuring proper nutrition. “SBN is the world’s leading private sector focused initiative under the umbrella body- Scaling Up Nutrition (SUN), which is a global movement that unites governments, civil societies, the United Nations, donors, businesses and researchers in a collective effort to improve nutrition. It is the private sector branch of the movement that aims to support businesses in growing the role they play in nutrition. The SUN Business Network is facilitated by GAIN in Nigeria”, she said.
Also, Senior Associate, Programme Development, GAIN, Hannah Theobald, said the organisation is targeting 125 million consumers, with the aim of improving their nutrition, which requires commitment of all stakeholders in the nutrition companies.
She said though 52 companies have made commitments to scale up nutrition since the Nutrition for Growth Summit in June 2013, but more should be done to improve nutrition products.
“We have created one coordinated global platform for business commitments and membership is open to a range of companies in both food and non-food sectors. Through existing commitments, we have set a target of 99 companies for our global platform by the end of 2015.
“There is a lot the private sector can do to support Nigerian government to improve nutrition. Private sector is, ideally, the place to develop products and services to improve nutrition and make nutrition products affordable in the market place. The sector is unique, as there abound a lot of expertise in innovations, in terms of making the nutrition products desirable to consumers.