Experts in food, nutrition and health, have identified micronutients fortification of commonly consumed foods as the key to ending malnutrition.
In a National Fortification Dialogue to discuss viable options to scaling up nutrition through food fortification held in Abuja as part of the United Nations Food Systems Summit, (UNFSS), the experts said micronutrients fortification was a major strategy against malnutrition and can create a huge breakthrough in healthy living.
Country Director of of Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, (GAIN), and convener of the meeting, Mr. Michael Ojo, noted that the development and advent of food fortification was a major game changer in food based innovations.
He explained that the lack of micronutrients in the body was a major health risk and that was why it was often referred to as the ‘hidden hunger.’
“GAIN is driven by a vision of a world without malnutrition hence we look forward to undergoing an inclusive contribution to this cause.
“We work in Nigeria to deliver support among vulnerable groups and children under the age five and we hope to change the narrative on micronutrients deficiency,” he said.
Senior Programmes Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Victor Ajieroh, said raising awareness about food fortification has gradually becoming part of a global movement
He said “after the successes recorded in salt iodization and sugar vitamin A fortification programmes, it is time to broaden the scope inculcating micronutrients in our foods to stem the tide of malnutrition due to lack of micronutrients.”
It is also important to reflect the voices of all stakeholders including industry players, the government and consumers in the fortification drive, he said.
While pointing out major interventions and policies by the government in promoting food fortification for improved nutrition, Permanent Secretary of the federal ministry of Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Olusola Idowu, said the federal government had held several meetings with stakeholders to identify challenges to ending micronutrients deficiency.
“We have to come up with actionable and implementable plans to tackle micronutrients deficiency through food fortification,” she urged the participants.
Discussion also centred on the importance of food labelling for ease of identification of fortified processed and packaged food, proper identification for farm produce as well as the laws put in place by government to ensure compliance by industry actors in safeguarding the health of the populace.
The meeting drew experts from government agencies, the National Fortification Alliance, (NFA), the Institute of Public Analyst of Nigeria, (IPAN), Technoserve, The Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria,(CS-SUNN), and other stakeholders.