Scientists, researchers partner against malnutrition

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 Amid worrying prevalence of childhood malnutrition in Nigeria, scientists and researchers in nutrition and dietetics have agreed on partnership to end malnutrition in the country.

Our correspondent reports that the two parties arrived at this resolution on Friday in Ibadan during the inauguration of Academic and Research Network for Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (ARN-SUNN) in Oyo State.

A Professor of Human Nutrition and Dietetics at University of Ibadan, Rasaki Sanusi, noted that childhood malnutrition had been a public health emergency in the country for the past 30 years.

“Malnutrition in under-five is a public health problem and it has been so for the past three decades.

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“This is in spite of the fact that almost all the organisations in Nigeria are doing something, but we are not seeing the impact.

“We think that it is because many of us are not working together. There are many organisations trying to address the problem of malnutrition, but each is doing it on its own.

“We think that if we come together and address it together, we should have remarkable results,” he said.

According to him, malnutrition remains unacceptably high in spite of interventions from various stakeholders for several years.

The don said that poor nutrition could result in impaired physical and mental development of a child.

“There are more of our children who are malnourished in excess of what is expected.

“For example, between 35 and 45 per cent of under-five are stunted, meaning that they are shorter than what’s expected for their age, and that also translates into their being deprived of mental capacity and ability to perform and learn in schools.

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“Also, many children are dying and are often hospitalised because of acute malnutrition,” he said.

In her remarks, Prof. Beatrice Ogunba of Public Health Nutrition, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, said that partnership of experts in human nutrition presented an unprecedented opportunity to end childhood malnutrition in the country.

“In the fight to reduce malnutrition, the academia is part of stakeholders. It is time for us to work together and do implementation researches that will have meaningful impacts.

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“For about 10 to 15 years, we have been moving at a very slow pace, but right now, through this partnership, we can focus on areas where we have not been making progress, instead of duplicating efforts,” she said.

Also speaking, Dr Oluwaseun Ariyo of Department of Human Nutrition, University of Ibadan, affirmed that stakeholders would be better equipped to end malnutrition through collaborative partnership.

“This partnership will help us to align our researches to solve the nutrition problems in our communities.

“Little collaboration across research institutions has prevented us from making great impact over the years,” he said. 

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