Nigeria has developed a Food and Nutrition Response Plan for the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan is a joint effort of nutrition partners/stakeholders in Nigeria with guidance from the Federal Ministry of Health. It focuses on nutrition issues to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and prevent malnutrition among young children and other vulnerable groups.
Occasioned by the rising COVID-19 pandemic, the lockdown and its gradual easing, has resulted in limited access to food and its supply chains. This is further leading to restriction in the availability of and people’s access to sufficient/diverse and nutritious food and supplements provided through the health care facilities. There is concern that the prevalence of child stunting, wasting, and micronutrient deficiencies is expected to increase in the coming months due to the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, with attendant limited access to adequate, diverse and nutritious foods.
The document sets out the preparedness and response of the Federal Ministry of Health to tackle the above impacts on the nutritional wellbeing of the vulnerable population. Its overall objective is “to ensure the integration of nutrition into the National COVID-19 response plan because of the central importance of good nutrition in supporting immune function and preventing a worsening of the nutrition situation of the vulnerable populations in Nigeria”.
Its strategic priority areas include:
1) Development of a Multi-Sectoral Approach to Nutrition for Consideration in COVID-19 Responses.
2) Support Health System Capacity to Deliver.
3) Protection of Food and Nutrition Security and Local Food Systems.
The plan further outlines interventions and activities, Food and Nutrition Communication Framework/plan and priority audiences required for the Health Ministry to implement strategies to ensure the continuity of critical nutrition intervention during the pandemic.
It is expected that this document will be effectively implemented and regularly updated in line with progression or regression of the disease as well as emerging evidence of nutrition interventions to manage the COVID-19 pandemic. See Plan here.