The Civil Society- Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) said more children in Nigeria including adults are affected by micronutrient deficiency (MND).
It also revealed that the MND affect no fewer than two billion people around the world.
The Executive Secretary of the organization, Mrs Beatrice Eluaka, during a one-day media roundtable on Micro-Nutrient Deficiency Control, lamented the alarming prevalence that has persisted for decades in Nigeria.
The workshop was organized by CS-SUNN in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health (FMoH) and the Federal Ministry of Agriculture & Rural Development.
She implored government at all level to devise a means to curtail the situation.
“There is need to scale-up provision of basic package of nutrition services across Primary Health Care Centres (PHCs) in Nigeria.
“Massive sensitisation, education and awareness creation to provoke behavioural changes that will promote optimal Infant and Young Child feeding practices in communities in Lagos State (like early initiation of breastfeeding, exclusive breastfeeding for the first six months of life and adequate complementary feeding) is critical to combating the MND menace.”
According to Eluaka, the major MND, which are of public health importance include vitamin A, iron and iodine deficiencies, all of which contribute to a variety of morbidities and increased mortality which are most severe in children, adolescent girls and pregnant women, like anaemia in women, birth defects, blindness and poor development in children.
MND is a major public health problem caused by a lack of essential vitamins and minerals (e.g. vitamin A, zinc, iron, iodine) in diets which the body requires in small amounts to survive and thrive. Adequate intake of micronutrients particularly Iron, Vitamin A, Iodine, Zinc from conception to age 24 months is critical for child growth and mental development.
She added that: “MNDs continue to contribute to morbidity and mortality among children by impairing immunity, impeding cognitive development and growth as well as reducing physical capacity and work performance in adulthood.”