NGOs call for promotion of food fortification compliance, workforce nutrition
L-R: Chair, House Committee on Healthcare Services, Hon. Dennis Idahosa, Executive Director, Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Auwal Musa Rafsanjani, Former Chairman Senate Committee on Health, Senator Ibrahim Oloriegbe, Chair, House Committee on Health Institutions, Hon. Amos Magaji and Country Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), Dr. Michael Ojo During the interface session on Promoting Food Fortification Compliance and Workforce Nutrition held in Lagos on Wednesday August 30th, 2023.
A coalition of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) has called on the Federal Government to promote food fortification compliance and workforce nutrition in the country.
They made the call in Lagos on Wednesday during an interface session on Promoting Food Fortification Compliance and Workforce Nutrition.
In his welcome address, the Executive Director of Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), Ibrahim Musa, said that fortification was the process of adding essential vitamins and minerals to food vehicles to improve their nutritional content.
Musa said that this was an important public health intervention that could help to prevent malnutrition, which was a major problem in many countries including Nigeria.
He said in recognition of this important process, the government had taken key steps to ensure that certain food vehicles were fortified.
“The government of Nigeria developed regulations and mandatory food fortification policies in 2009 and 2019 respectively to promote food fortification which is being implemented by three key agencies present here today (NAFDAC, FCCPC and SON).
“It is worthy to note that since the existence of the policy document, these agencies have been working within their mandates to implement the policy, and monitor compliance, with measure of progresses recorded as would be presented today,” he said.
According to the executive director, there is still a need to improve compliance on the policy so that every Nigerian, irrespective of social status, understands the importance of fortified foods, and able to afford same.
Speaking also, Hon. Amos Magaji, Chair, House Committee on Health Institutions, said the issues of food fortification compliance and workforce nutrition were very important.
Magaji said that one of the most important things was strong legislation on food fortification alongside the need to look at the issue of compliance and monitoring, noting that if there was no monitoring and compliance, nothing would work.
He also highlighted some of the challenges of food fortification compliance and workforce nutrition as insecurity, cost, storage, exposure among others.
Also, Hon. Denis Idahosa, Chairman, House Committee on Health Services, said the session was an important gathering centered around the theme “Fortifying Nigeria’s Future.”
Idahosa said that the gathering was put together to discuss and advocate the enhancement of food fortification compliance and the promotion of workforce nutrition that would ensure a healthier and more resilient Nigeria.
Dr Michael Ojo, Country Director, Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN), said that the drivers of malnutrition had evolved over time, noting that its root cause could be addressed by focussing on food systems and how to transform them.
Ojo said in spite of the evolution, large-scale food fortification (LSFF) still remained a significant part of its organisation’s work in Nigeria.
Also, Mr Laoye Jaiyeola, Chief Executive Officer, Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG), said malnutrition and its health and economic impacts deserved more attention from the government and state policymakers.
Jaiyeola, represented by Mr Olayinka Iyinolakan, said that these actors should aim at strengthening the policy and institutional frameworks for implementing food nutrition security programmes to promote food fortification compliance and workforce nutrition.
“One important step required to reduce malnutrition sustainably is the upscaling of nutrition-sensitive policies and programmes that address the underlying determinants of malnutrition.
“These determinants are poverty, food insecurity, and lack of access to the components of healthy diets among others,” he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the interface session was sponsored by the CISLAC in collaboration with NESG and E-Health Africa.