Vice president Yemi Osinbajo has said that the West African sub-region is affected by multiple forms of malnutrition, across various population groups, while calling for a better understanding of the drivers of malnutrition and how they can be effectively resolved.
Osinbajo made the call yesterday at the 17th Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Nutrition Forum, themed: “Leveraging Sustainable Financing for Multisectoral Approaches: Accelerate Universal Access to Nutritious, Safe, Affordable & Sustainable Diets,” in Abuja.
Represented by the minister of health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, Osinbajo identified the major contributory factors in the context of malnutrition in all its forms to include changing lifestyles and environments marked by rapidly changing dietary behaviour and lack of knowledge about dietary behaviours and food environments.
“As a matter of priority, this calls for more public awareness and strategic nutrition education interventions aimed to empower the family particularly the ‘WOMAN’ for increased access to the family as the basic unit of human existence, to sustainable healthy diets from infancy to adulthood,” he said.
Ehanire, in his welcome address, said the theme of the Forum is apt at this time when countries across the region are dealing with post COVID effect, climate change issues and dwindling resources. He said the political will and commitment to drive change must be clearly defined and sustained to ensure that nutrition is prioritised as a key driver of development in the region.
The minister urged participants at the forum to focus on advancing understanding on multi-sectoral approaches in the implementation of nutrition interventions for sustainable access to nutritious, safe and affordable diets.
The director-general of the West African Health Organisation (WAHO), Dr Melchior Athanase, said the organisation was delighted with the commitment of all the key sectors.
He, however, said that leadership was needed in the area of nutrition, adding that national investment is also necessary to enable countries to take ownership of nutrition.