Dr. Ugwunta, Commissioner for Gender, Representatives of UNICEF and other Speakers in a group photograph

Enugu is one of the 15 states that recorded improvements in more than one commitment areas on nutrition in the 2nd quarter (April-June) 2021.

Enugu State Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Dr. David O. Ugwunta disclosed this on Friday, 26th November, during the ‘State Policy Dialogue and Engagement of State Executives and Legislative Councils on Investment in Nutrition meeting’ held at BON Sunshine Hotel, Enugu. The event was hosted by the Ministry of Budget and Planning in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund.

According to Dr. Ugwunta, this significant improvement is a product of the doggedness and commitment in prioritizing nutrition in the Coal City by Enugu State Government under the leadership of his Excellency, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi.

He maintained that these inputs are already been noticed as Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF) Nutrition Scorecard ranked Enugu State amongst the 15 states that recorded improvements in more than one commitment areas on nutrition in the 2nd quarter (April-June) 2021.

In the latest NGF Nutrition Scorcard, Dr Chinekwu Oreh, Health Specialist, NGF Secretariat noted “A total of 15 states (Abia, Adamawa, Akwa Ibom, Delta, Ekiti, Enugu, Gombe, Imo, Kano, Kwara, Niger, Ogun, Osun, Oyo, and Rivers) recorded improvements in at least one indicator, with four states (Akwa Ibom, Enugu, Kano, and Niger) recording improvements in more than one commitment area”.

Dr. Ugwunta disclosed that the Governor of Enugu State, Rt. Hon. Dr. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi has done so much and is committed to doing many more to promote nutrition in the state noting that the State government has seen to the setting up and inauguration of the ‘Enugu State Committee on Food and Nutrition’ made up of MDAs involved in Nutrition and Food Systems which is under the State Ministry of Budget and Planning; adopted the National Food and Nutrition Policy as well as the domestication of the Multi-Sectoral Strategic Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition.

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Dr. Ugwunta added that the State government still in the bid to curb all forms of issues related to malnutrition in the state, hosted the South-East regional dialogue of the United Nations Food Systems Summit in April 2021; sees to the participation of Enugu State in the ongoing UNICEF Progressive Action on Resilient Systems for Nutrition through Innovation and Partnership (PARSNIP); as well as funded the sensitization of the public on the health benefits of exclusive breast feeding through the Enugu State Primary Health Care Development Agency in the commemoration of the World Breastfeeding Week.

Also speaking at the event themed, “Prioritizing Investment in Maternal, Child and Adolescent Nutrition”, the UNICEF, Planning and Monitoring Specialist Enugu, Mrs Zubbie-Okolo noted that the essence of the meeting was to have the Executive and Legislative arms of the State government come together to ensure that nutrition is placed on the agenda.

She also stated that the meeting was in tandem with the Sustainable Development Goals agenda to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030 as Nigeria is one of the nations in the world with a high record of ravaging malnutrition.

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Mrs Okolo noted that UNICEF in a bid to boost nutrition in the state recently rolled out Micro Nutrients powder to three Senatorial Zones (Udenu, Nkanu West and Udi) in Enugu state.

In her keynote speech, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Lady Chizoba Steve-Edemba disclosed that nutrition investment increases early school completion by one year; raise adult wages by 5-50%; brings about 33% escape from poverty in children who escaped stunting; improve maternal and child health of the country thus a significant boost in the annual GDP by 11%.

During a panel discussion at the event, the Honourable Commissioner for Gender Affairs and Social Development in Enugu State, Princess Peace Nnaji reiterated that the wife of the Executive Governor, Her Excellency Mrs. Monica Ugwuanyi has intensified the fight against malnutrition through her support to Maternal, Newborn And Child Health Week (MNCHW) with nutrition commodities as well as the sensitization/promotion of exclusive breastfeeding as she consistently holds awareness programme for women in the State regarding this issue on a monthly basis at Okpara Square, Enugu.

Speaking on the State Legislative strategic plan to implement investment in nutrition in the state, Hon. Sam Ngene, the House Committee Chairman on Health noted that the House will make a collaborative effort to provide not just an enabling environment for nutrition investment to thrive but will make sure that adequate fund is appropriated to bring about desired result.

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In a wrap up, the Honourable Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Dr. Ugwunta disclosed that the State Government plans to sustain all the commendable efforts being made to improve nutrition in the State; especially by development of proper costed work plan and release of fund for the delivery of food and Nutrition Programmes in the year 2022 through participating MDAs. Adding that the State Government also commits to providing for the PARSNIP Match-funding in the 2022 Budget and facilitate the approval and release of fund to match fund the UNICEF-PARSNIP for the procurement of RUTF for continuous treatment of SAM across the State.

Other dignitaries present at the engagement were: Honourable Commissioner for Health; Dr. Obi Ikechukwu Emmanuel, Education; Prof. Uche Eze, Permanent Secretaries: Finance; Dr. Ben Ezenwa, Information; Chris Mba, Health; Dr. Ifeanyi Agujiobi, SSG’s Office; Barr. May Anayo Enechukwu, Executive Secretary, Enugu State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. George Ugwu and a host of others.

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