The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has said that no fewer than 40 million people are battling food insecurity in Nigeria.
Based on this, CISLAC has collaborated with the National Economic Summit Group (NESG) and E-Health Africa through a third-party campaign in order to drive a campaign aimed at joining efforts with health advocates, MDAs, non-state actors, and organized private sectors on the need to amplify the food fortification campaign to improve workforce nutrition in Nigeria.
According to the multisectoral group, there’s a need to drive the implementation of food fortification and workforce nutrition in Nigeria to build stronger health systems that will respond to local needs and provide underserved communities with the appropriate tools to live healthier lives.
CISLAC said the collaborative campaign is geared towards ensuring that the active workforce and the general working population have access to quality food while stressing that the general workforce population spends half of the day at their workplace.
The group also urged the organized private sector to ensure adequate nutrition for staff and employees, adding that this would reduce lost work hours and maximize full potential in the workplace.
Speaking earlier during a campaign launch and media roundtable with CSOs and media training on food fortification, with the theme “Fortifying Nigeria’s Future: CSO and Media Training on Food Fortification and Workforce Nutrition in Nigeria,” Senior Finance Officer, CISLAC, Murtala Mohammed stated that the campaign and three-day capacity-building programs would address workforce nutrition and nutrient deficiencies among the active workforce. “Millions of Nigerians are undernourished, and many more are overweight or obese,” he noted.
He added that the obesity issue has a devastating impact on health, productivity, and economic development. His words: “This is a decrease from 46.0 percent in 2018, but it is still a high number. The NDHS also found that 20.3 percent of children under the age of five in Nigeria are wasted, meaning they are too thin for their height.
“Food fortification is a proven way to improve nutrition and health. It is a simple, cost-effective intervention that can be used to add essential nutrients to foods that are commonly consumed by large populations.”
While urging companies, food producers, and industries to help promote food fortification and workforce nutrition in Nigeria, Mohammed charged organizations across the country to take the issues of workforce nutrition more seriously in order to improve the productivity of their employees by implementing the following measures.
CISLAC, NESG, and E-Health Africa charged the government and non-state actors to drive food regulation on a large scale by improving legislative oversight on food fortification and workforce nutrition at the National Assembly to ensure that the food supply chain is fortified.
In her own remarks, Dr. Patricia Ukaegbu of the Department of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Michael Okpara University, said a well-nourished population will fight infection, adding that a malnourished population will affect labor productivity in critical sectors of the economy.
According to Ukaegbu, nutrition is a basic human right, and we must understand the essentials that will develop humans and transcend economic development.
She then outlined consequences of malnutrition such as maternal death, stunted growth, micronutrient deficiency, and reduced mental capacity.