Nigeria recently hosted a Nutrition Webinar with theme “Improving Maternal, Infant and Child Nutrition in the Context of COVID-19”. The Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration (FMOH) with CS-SUNN, Vitamin Angels, the West African Academy of Public Health (WAAPH), RAISE foundation, UNICEF Nigeria and the Lagos State Ministry of Health organized the nutrition webinar to reflect on COVID-19 nutrition response and also discuss innovative approaches to effectively deliver essential interventions for pregnant women and children in the context of COVID-19.
According to the Moderator, Dr. Chris Isokpunwu, Head of Nutrition, FMOH, the webinar was aimed at:
- articulating the importance of maternal, infant, child and adolescent nutrition continuum in pandemic state for the benefit of stakeholders
- discussing key interventions in the context of COVID-19 and the nutrition response.
- learning from successes and challenges of key states in implementing nutrition response
- stimulating a community of practice for public health nutrition by providing a forum for knowledge, evidence, and best practices and to identify solutions to challenges with COVID-19 response and Nutrition.
During the session, the Guest Speaker, Wife of the Executive Governor of Niger State, Dr. Amina Abubakar Bello made a presentation on “Nutritional Care During Pregnancy: Why Maternal Nutrition Must Be Supported in Times of Pandemics”.
CS-SUNN Executive Secretary Beatrice Eluaka in a technical session titled “ COVID-19 National Nutrition Response and the Strategies for full Communities Engagement” identified the impact of COVID-19 on nutrition systems to include; income losses, dangerous decline in dietary quality, breakdown of the food market (demand increased, supply constrained) and diversion of nutritional resources within the health sector and others to combating Covid-19.
She said for communities to be fully engaged in the COVID-19 nutrition response, there was the need to engage local systems, tap into local knowledge, holistically design strategies and monitor/evaluate the sustainability of such interventions. Eluaka urged government to strengthen multisectoral efforts for key actions such as functional agri-food systems, facilitating food system innovations, supporting enhanced homestead food production to increase access to nutrient-rich foods. In addition, use of social safety net programs to improve dietary quality, preventing the collapse of basic maternal and child health services, support to community-based management of acute malnutrition and scale up food and nutrition surveillance systems were part of actions to boost community engagements in the COVID-19 response.