Following the recent establishment of nutrition budget lines in 9 line-ministries of Lagos State, the Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) has called for prompt release of the funds.
The group made the call during an advocacy visit to The Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Samuel Egube, recently.
The Executive Secretary CS-SUNN, Mrs Beatrice Eluaka, who spoke on behalf of the group commended the state government for approving the nutrition budget lines but added that there was a need for prompt release of funds.
“It is not just enough to have a budget line. There is the need for the budget lines to have cash backing and to ensure timely releases, to facilitate the full implementation of the State Multi-Sectoral Plan of Action for Nutrition,” Eluaka said.
According to her, the rate of malnutrition in Lagos is still high despite progress attained by the state.
“Malnutrition is measured in indicators like stunting- when a child is too short and is a result of long term malnutrition. The Stunting rate in Lagos is 17.3% which is quite high. Also, the rate of under-nutrition known as wasting, in Lagos is above acceptable rate and calls for some emergency measures”, she said in her address.
Eluaka also called for the speedy approval of the costed multi-sectoral plan of action which is designed to help tackle malnutrition in the state.
“We have teamed with the Lagos state to develop a multi-sectoral plan of action. We have also costed the plan and are hoping it will be approved”, she said.
Mrs Eluaka further commended the Lagos State government for being the first state to approve six-months maternity leave for women.
The Lagos State Commissioner for Economic Planning and Budget, Mr Samuel Egube, in his response, said; “nutrition is at the heart of government’s strategy for developing the capacity of its citizens”.
Egube said that nutrition was part of the state’s preventive mechanism for the sustainable healthcare system, adding that the state has several nutrition interventions across various ministries, departments and agencies.
“We are intervening already to ensure that nutrition reaches pregnant women because if the unborn child is not well nourished from the womb, they come out incapacitated and this can create a whole cycle of poverty,” he said.
According to him, the government is increasing investment in various primary healthcare centres to ensure accessible, affordable and quality healthcare delivery for its citizens.
He added that the state just held the Lagos farmers market to ensure that fresh food direct from the farms were sold to the people to enhance their nourishment level.
Egube said that the state was working with the African Development Bank (AfDB) to develop special processing zones targeted at ensuring that food was cheaper, hygienic, accessible, and post-harvest wastage reduced.
The commissioner noted that the state committed N7 billion yearly to the State Health Insurance Scheme while urging the residents to participate more in the scheme toward ensuring its success.
Egube stressed that nutrition was a collective responsibility, thus called for more collaboration between government and nutrition stakeholders.