Collaborative Effort In Nigeria Aims To Improve Micronutrient Health

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In a unified initiative, the Nigerian Economic Summit Group (NESG), eHealth Africa, and the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) have come together to champion the cause of promoting adherence to food fortification standards as a means to combat micronutrient deficiencies.

During a recent webinar, Michael Ojo, serving as the Country Director of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), emphasized that Nigeria, despite its abundant agricultural resources, grapples with the issue of micronutrient deficiency. He applauded the private sector’s efforts in enforcing fortification measures and stressed the critical importance of collaboration across sectors.

Ojo also shed light on the remarkable progress made through the Micronutrient Fortification Index (MFI), led by TechnoServe, which has played a significant role in reducing micronutrient deficiencies.

Penjani Mkambula, the Global Programme Lead for Food Fortification at GAIN, highlighted that fortification endeavors have not only addressed micronutrient deficiencies but have also tackled conditions such as goitre through the introduction of iodized salt.

Ibrahim Oloriegbe, an expert in Health System Development, underscored the profound impact of malnutrition on growth. He emphasized that cultural factors, dietary habits, family dynamics, individual purchasing power, and environmental influences can either hinder or promote malnutrition. Oloriegbe proposed that educating traditional institutions and religious leaders about the importance of consuming fortified foods can play a pivotal role in reducing micronutrient deficiencies.

Moreover, Oloriegbe spotlighted the challenge of proper food storage and handling, highlighting that vitamins and minerals lose their value when stored at improper temperatures. He stressed the significance of community education to ensure that food retailers and wholesalers handle their products in a way that preserves their nutritional value for end consumers.

Y.B. Mohammed, who leads the Food Group at the Standards Organisation of Nigeria (SON), represented by Aderonke Apim, the Chief Technical Officer, and Acting State Coordinator at the Lagos State Office, acknowledged that stringent regulations, including audits, training, and educational initiatives on standards, are indispensable to achieve compliance with food fortification standards. However, they also acknowledged the obstacles to compliance, such as a lack of awareness, limited enforcement capacity, resource constraints, and biases.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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