The Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition, GAIN, a Swiss-based foundation, says many diseases in Nigeria are attributable to malnutrition or poor diet.
GAIN Country Director, Michael Ojo, stated this in Ibadan during a stakeholders’ roundtable on the commercialization of bio-fortified crops.
The stakeholders’ roundtable is organized by GIAN in collaboration with the Oyo State Committee on Food and Nutrition.
Mr. Ojo said that due to malnutrition, many Nigerians risk developing certain types of diseases that could lead to serious complications even death.
“A research was done to really determine what is that is causing people in the country to be sick or to die.
“It was discovered that for Nigerians, malnutrition or what we eat is at the core of five of the top ten risk factors for diseases and deaths and that makes it really important for us to focus on what we eat.
“That makes it really important for us to focus on what we eat. What is our food system producing for us? How is it helping us to ensure that people, especially the poorest among us, have access to nutritious and safe foods.?
“That is why the focus of the work we are doing is to really see how we can transform our food systems.
“And also to make sure that they deliver nutritious and safe food systems that is accessible for everybody, that are easy to find and that is affordable,” he said.
According to him, malnutrition among child-bearing mothers also has a negative impact on children, which contributes to the high rate of stunting in the country.
“Nationally, we have big problems with micronutrient deficiency, where nearly half of women of reproductive age do not have access to the level of micronutrients they should have.
“The deficiency has implications not just on their health, but also the health of their children.
“The figure that we have from the last national survey indicates that 37 percent of Nigerian children are stunted due to inadequate nutrition,” Mr. Ojo said.
He said that undernutrition coupled with the burden of nutrition which leads to obesity contributes immensely to the increased morbidity and mortality from diet-related non-communicable diseases in the country.
According to him, drastic measures need to be taken to improve access to safe and nutritious foods in order to reduce the burden of non-communicable diseases in the country.
“What is most important now is for state governments like Oyo State to engage with what we call the implementation pathways for this food system transformation and begin to take action that would bring those implementation actions into being.
“We need to really focus on our policy; we need to engage young people and women especially. We need to do this in a systematic way and focus on nutrition,” he said.
In his remarks, the Chairman of, Oyo State Committee on Food and Nutrition, Ademola Ajibola, said that the state government was working to improve the productivity and efficiency of farmers to improve the production of nutritious foods.