The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has disclosed that a latest survey has ranked Nigeria as the country with the second-highest malnutrition rate in the world.
The Director, USAID Mission, Anne Patterson made this disclosure on Wednesday, 16 August, 2023 at the Trade Fair for Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods and Other Life-Saving Nutrition Commodities in Abuja, the country’s seat of power.
Citing the most recent Food Consumption and Micronutrients Survey in 2021, Patterson explained that the prevalence of severe acute malnutrition in Nigerian children increased from seven per cent to 12 per cent over the last five years.
“This means Nigeria is the second most prevalent malnutrition country.“Only 2.8 per cent of those children were treated with ready-to-use therapeutic foods -also known as RUTF in the past 12 months.
“These are alarming figures. Fortunately, local procurement of RUTF is available with producers like Ariel Foods, Emzor- Foods, DABS, and Nutri-K,” she said.
According to her, these firms have demonstrated that there is capacity in Nigeria to produce these commodities at international standards.
“In partnership with the people of Nigeria, their government, and various stakeholders, we recognise that reducing malnutrition is a critical component of improving health, education, and economic development.
“The United States Government is eager to strengthen ties with private sector firms that are addressing malnutrition.
“For example, just last week, USAID entered into a partnership with Emzor Food and Beverages to build a medical-grade groundnut paste processing facility,” she added
The Mission Director called on state governments to commit to sustaining access to RUTF and other life-saving nutrition commodities for their citizens.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance, Budget and Planning, Nebeolisa Anako, said malnutrition is a huge burden that needed collaborative efforts to address.
Represented by the National Convener, UN Food Systems Transformation Pathways for Nigeria, Faniran Sanjo noted, “We shall identify priority actions for government at all levels to produce RUTF.”