By Muhammad Ahmad
The Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) on Wednesday enlisted the support of the media to address the scourge of hidden hunger among children under five years in Kaduna State.
CS-SUNN’s Executive Secretary, Mrs Beatrice Eluaka represented by the group’s Communication Officer, Mrs Lilian Ajah-Mong, made the call in Kaduna during a Media Round Table on Micro-Nutrients Deficiency Control (MNDC).
Eluaka explained that hidden hunger or micro nutrient deficiency was the lack of essential minerals and vitamins required by the body for proper growth and development.
She said that Nigeria has an alarming prevalence of micro nutrient deficiencies that has persisted for decades and affects about two billion people worldwide, two million of which are in Nigeria.
According to her, deficiencies in micro nutrients are public health concern that impair immunity, impede cognitive development and growth as well as reduce capacity.
“The deficiency of these micro nutrients causes a variety of morbidity and increased mortality which are most severe in children, adolescent girls and pregnant women.
“It is the leading cause of anemia, birth defects, increase susceptibility to infection, blindness and reduced growth and development in women and children.
“As CS-SUNN works to contribute to the reduction of malnutrition in Nigeria, including micro nutrient deficiencies, it is important that the media actively creates visibility for issues around MNDC.
“The media is critical in improving awareness and knowledge on MNDC and in drawing the attention of policy makers towards prompting actions on improving interventions around micro nutrients deficiency.”
She explained that the media round table was organized in collaboration with Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) to set an agenda on MNDC n the media space.
“It also hoped to increase media participation in the promotion of micro nutrient deficiency control interventions in Nigeria through impactful reportage,” she said.
Also speaking, Mr John Uruakpa, Deputy Director and Head, Micro nutrient Deficiencies Control, FMoH, said that hidden hunger occurs when people consume insufficient minerals and vitamins.
Uruakpa said that the World Bank has estimated that about 1.5 billion U.S. dollars would be lost annually in Nigeria to micro nutrients deficiency.
According to him, it is called hidden hunger because people do not know they have it until its negative impact begins to manifest.
He identified essential minerals and vitamins needed for proper growth and development as vitamin A, Iodine, iron, Zinc and foliate.
Uruakpa said that the federal government had over the years made several efforts toward controlling the deficiency in the country.
Similarly, Mrs Akinbinu Adeyinka of the FMARD, said that the ministry have fortified a number of crops with the needed minerals and vitamins.
She listed some of the crops fortified with vitamin A to include cassava and maize, orange flesh, sweet potato and sorghum while zinc; rice and beans were on the way.
Adeyinka also described the media as key to spreading the information for the people to access and consume fortified foods for healthy growth and development. (NAN)