The Minister for Budget and Economic Planning, Abubakar Bagudu, has said that Nigeria loses $1.5 billion of its Gross Domestic Product every year due to malnutrition or micronutrient deficiencies.
To combat malnutrition, the minister called for coordinated efforts to ensure a swift response with expected positive outcomes.
The minister made this disclosure on Tuesday while speaking at the 53rd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria in Abuja.
This was according to a statement by the ministry, which was released to the press on Wednesday.
In the statement, Bagudu noted that the government was determined to tackle malnutrition through the inclusion of nutrition in the National Development Plan as well as the Nigeria Agenda 2050.
He stated, “It is also a commitment to achieving optimal nutrition status for all Nigerians, with particular attention to the vulnerable group as highlighted in the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition.”
The minister urged experts in nutrition in the country to research and develop innovations that will boost nutrition.
Doing this would contribute towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, ensuring Universal Health Coverage, and bringing about significant positive changes in the nutrition sector in Nigeria, he said.
He told members of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria “to prioritize innovation and research in the field of nutrition towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals, Universal Health Coverage, and the transformation of the landscape of nutrition in Nigeria.”
Bagudu added that “Nigeria currently requires nutrition professionals who have extensive knowledge, good communication skills to address nutrition education, emotional intelligence as well, and a good understanding of self-motivation and drive to address nutrition dynamics.”
He urged the NSN to embrace technology, leverage digital solutions, and invest in research and development to find sustainable and scalable solutions to Nigeria’s nutrition challenges.
Bagudu assured members of the NSN that his ministry would strengthen coordination and provide the required leadership for the nutrition sector.
In his goodwill message, Kwara State Governor AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq said the Nigerian Governors’ Forum had identified areas of key commitments for the realization of a healthier citizenry and country, including increasing budgetary spending on nutrition and strengthening the nutrition profile.