Experts Advocate Food Fortificat­ion to Stem Malnutriti­on

- Kasim Sumaina ÓØ ÌßÔË

Experts in food, nutrition and health, have identified micronutri­ents fortificat­ion of commonly consumed foods as the key to ending malnutriti­on.

The experts said micronutri­ents fortificat­ion is a major strategy against malnutriti­on and can create a huge breakthrou­gh in healthy living.

They made the call recently at 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),

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 is a major game changer in food based innovation­s.

He explained that the lack of micronutri­ents in the body is a major health risk and that is why it is often referred to as the ‘hidden hunger.

According to him, “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.”

Similarly, Senior Programmes Officer, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Dr. Victor Ajieroh, said raising awareness about food fortificat­ion has gradually become part of a global movement

He observed that 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.”

Ajieroh further stated that it is also important to reflect the voices of all stakeholde­rs including such as industry players, the government and consumers in the fortificat­ion drive.

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 has held several meetings with stakeholde­rs to identify challenges to ending micronutri­ents deficiency.

Idowu while urging the participan­ts, said: “We have to come up with actionable and implementa­ble plans to tackle micronutri­ents deficiency through food fortificat­ion.”

Discussion also centred on the importance of food labelling for easy 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.

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