Stakeholders working in the media and health sectors have called for the inclusion of child nutrition as a major component of the Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF).
The Basic Healthcare Provision Fund (BHCPF) is a key component of the National Health Act (NHA) that ensures basic minimum health packages for Nigerians.
It is derived from a minimum of one percent (1%) of the federal government’s Consolidated Revenue Fund (CRF).
The experts said doing so would go a long way in addressing the menace of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in Nigeria.
They stated this during a workshop organised by the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) in collaboration with the International Society for Media in Public Health (ISMPH) in Abuja.
Veteran journalist and Chief Executive Officer of ISMPH , Chief Moji Makanjuola, said that government should prioritise nutrition because many Nigerian children were dying daily from SAM, and that malnourished children were susceptible to the commonest infections.
“The media also has roles to play in ensuring release of budget lines for nutrition. Often times nutrition gets little or nothing even from the Federal Ministry of Health,” she said and urged the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) to utilise resources at its disposal in reducing the prevalence of diseases in the country.
Olayinka Oladimeji, a public health expert with the National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) said childhood malnutrition was a major public health challenge in all the states of the country, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). He said it accounted for about 30% of all under five deaths.
He said Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods, RUTF, which is used in tackling malnutrition were not available in the country but provided through interventions by UNICEF
Edosa Oviawe, a consultant to ISMPH said that the aim of SAM advocacy in Nigeria was to mobilize the media and public in support of investment in SAM prevention and treatment.