The public health significance of micronutrient deficiencies in the country is classified as severe by the World Health Organization and the reason is not far-fetched. While micronutrients such as vitamin A, zinc, Iron, folic acid and iodine are required in small quantities for proper growth and development, their deficiency in the body comes with great consequences.

For instance, a UNICEF report revealed that every day in Nigeria, 2,300 children under-five die, with malnutrition being the underlying cause of more than half of those deaths. The recent Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS 2018) data showed that 68 per cent of children six to 59 months of age and 58 per cent of women of reproductive age in Nigeria are anemic, with at least a third of the anemia attributable to iron deficiency. The report also revealed that the prevalence of anemia among children age 12 to 17 months is 81 per cent.

To effectively tackle micronutrient deficiencies, CS-SUNN has called on state governments to promote distribution of Micronutrient powder, Iron/Folic Acid supplements and Zinc including Vitamin A supplementation for Pregnant Women and Children respectively.

At a Media Roundtable on Micronutrient Deficiency Control (MNDC) in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development in Lagos, the alliance’s Executive Secretary Beatrice Eluaka said “Lack of vitamin A, zinc, iron and iodine in our diets can cause morbidity and mortality among children by impairing immunity, impeding cognitive development and growth as well as reducing physical capacity and work performance in adulthood. Deficiencies in the aforementioned micronutrients are also the leading causes of anemia in women, birth defects, increased vulnerability to infections, blindness and poor development in children.” She emphasized the need to scale-up provision of nutrition services in hard-to-reach areas for easy access by women and children and to ensure fund releases with specific funds allotted to interventions around micronutrient powder, biofortification, iron folate supplementation and Vitamin A supplementation.

In a presentation, the Deputy Director and Head, Micronutrient Deficiencies Control, Federal Ministry of Health, Mr. John Uruakpa revealed that federal government strategies in response to micronutrient deficiencies included food fortification, deworming, biofortification, dietary diversification and supplementation. Uruakpa, however, said government cannot address the menace alone. “More investment is required in the area of micronutrient deficiency control by the government, the collaborating partners and the work of the media in creating awareness, sensitization and educating the public about the scourge cannot not be over emphasized. There is need to develop and implement policies and programmes that favor procurement and availability of MNDC commodities such as vitamin A, iron folate, and micronutrient powders, used in the prevention of micronutrient deficiencies,” he said.

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