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APC governors to domesticate child nutrition policy

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The governors on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have resolved to domesticate policies on child nutrition, even they are also planning to strengthen advocacy for the homegrown school feeding programme in all the member states.

The Progressives Governors Forum (PGF) Governance Programme Steering Committee revealed the plans in a communique released after it teleconference meeting.

The communique which was made available to newsmen on Saturday in Abuja and signed by governors of Jigawa Mohammed Badaru Abubakar and his counterpart in Plateau Barr. Simon Lalong as co-chairmen, said framework for Common Policy Initiatives on Promoting Child Nutrition in all the state of the APC is presently before the consideration of PGF.

The communique said that the virtual meeting had in attendance Secretaries to the State Government of the progressive states, other representatives of the state governmens, and members of the PGF Governance Programme Steering Committee was however chaired by the co-chairman and the Plateau state governor, Solomon Lalong.

The meeting among other things also agreed to continually share information, ideas and knowledge through its quarterly meetings and the PGF Secretariat to promote synergy across the member States and facilitate greater cooperation for uniform/common policy initiatives geared towards sustainable development.

Part of the recommendations proposed by the meeting for consideration/implementation by the APC states include;

“Increased commitment and political will towards improving child nutrition in the APC States through enhancing resource mobilisation and incorporating in the annual budget both nutrition specific interventions and programmes and nutrition sensitive programmes.

“Engage concertedly with critical stakeholders to explore cross-sectoral opportunities for child nutrition interventions at all levels.

“Plan and implement nutrition policy interventions and programmes that will be sustainable and resilient to the impacts of COVID-19 and the associated economic fallouts.

“Develop and strengthen legislation, policies, strategies and action plans with measurable outcomes for nutritional and related interventions, including pregnant women, youth, and other vulnerable households.

“Take leadership and ownership in the coordination and strengthening of child nutrition programmes and interventions by ensuring appropriate synergy between Ministries, Agencies and Departments, Local Governments, Development Partners, the Civil Society Partners, and the Private Sector.

“Have a collective meeting with Development partners that would essentially focus on domestication of FG and PGF policies on child nutrition in each APC state.

“Enhance sensitisation, awareness, enlightenment, education, and other complementary activities, particularly at community levels on child nutrition and related issues.

“Encourage interactions with farmers and entrepreneurs along the value chain in the local communities to develop a better understanding of how to participate and increase knowledge of nutrition and food security, and related environmental factors (such as climate change).

“Explore ways to strengthen advocacy for the homegrown school feeding programme and make accountability part of its implementation in the APC States.

“Create a template that reflects the current status of each APC state on policies, implementation challenges and gaps as well as sustainability and also serve as a framework for peer learning, sharing of best practices and peer review amongst the APC states to ensure that they all are working collectively to align their nutrition policies with those of the Federal Government of Nigeria.”

According to the release, Director Africa Practice, Synergos, Mr. Adewale Ajadi, while presenting the Keynote address on Issues and Challenges of Child Nutrition in the APC states identified challenges and dynamics of formulating and implementing child nutrition interventions in the country.

He also recognized that Covid-19 has further added more problems to the crisis of child nutrition in the country.

Earlier while declaring open the meeting, Governor Lalong highlighted the widespread crisis of child malnutrition among children under five years of age in Nigeria and the associated wasting, stunting, low cognitive ability among children, and the resultant low earning capabilities after they have become adults.

He said that the issue of malnutrition and undernourishment “is a social, economic and developmental challenge that must be addressed holistically, as part of the nation’s commitment towards the attainment of the United Nations Social Development Goals (UN-SDGs) and meeting the target of zero hunger in the country by 2030.

“COVID-19 pandemic has introduced entirely new dimensions to the crisis of nutrition by aggravating and widening the scope of the problem beyond the children, also to include the adult population.”

He, however emphasised the determination of APC Governors to put the issue of child nutrition on the front burner and develop an enduring framework that will not only address the challenge of child nutrition within the shortest time possible but also ensure that access to food by all vulnerable households is reasonably guaranteed at all times.

“Call the Secretaries to APC State Governments to broaden and share understanding of the issues related to child nutrition in the respective APC States while deepening the scope of interventions that will bring beneficial outcomes.

“Having welcomed participants and facilitators and applauded the PGF Secretariat for organising the teleconference despite the lockdown occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, on behalf of the PGF, the Co-Chairman expressed gratitude to President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government for the sustained support it has provided State Governments since 2015 and called for stronger partnership to develop common policy initiatives on promoting child nutrition in the country, particularly in these challenging times.”

The PGF Co-Chairman also urged all the Secretaries to APC State Governments to examine current approaches and other global experiences and come up with practical and actionable plans that will assist the Governments of APC states to fast track policy formulation and implementation, as well as the critical issues of resource mobilisation towards eradicating child malnutrition in the APC states.

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Finally, FG Bans Sachet Alcoholic Drinks

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By Elizabeth Okwe

The National Agency for Food Administration and Control (NAFDAC) has banned alcoholic beverages produced in sachets less than 200ml.

The agency said the five-year window given to the manufacturers of the products to stop producing the drinks in sachets and pet bottles which began in 2018 elapsed on January 31, 2024.

She said enforcement of the ban commenced on February 1, 2024.

Director-General of NAFDAC, Prof Mojisola Adeyeye, while addressing the media over the development in Abuja on Monday, said the ban was not a sudden development but a result of a multilateral Committee that agreed that the ban would be in phases whereby production would be reduced by 50 percent by 2020 while outright ban would be on January 31, 2024.

Given that decision, the DG said NAFDAC did not issue renewal licenses exceeding January 2024 to any manufacturer of the products.

According to her, the agency took the route of wiping out the drinks in such sachets because of the negative effects on underage children.

She said because the drinks come in pocket-friendly sizes, accessible and affordable, children easily fell for the packages only to face the consequences in the future.

“This decision was based on the recommendation of a high-powered committee of the Federal Ministry of Health and NAFDAC on one hand, the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission (FCCPC), and the Industry represented by the Association of Food, Beverages and Tobacco Employers (AFBTE), Distillers and Blenders Association of Nigeria (DIBAN), in December 2018.

“As a commitment to the decision reached at the end of this Committee meeting, producers of alcohol in sachets and small volume agreed to reduce the production by 5 percent with effect from 31st January 2022 while ensuring the product is completely phased out in the country by 31st January 2024”.

According to her, the future of the country supersedes other considerations in the enforcement of the policy.

Noting that saving Nigerian children and protecting the health of the larger society is paramount, Adeyeye said: “The people who are mostly at risk of the negative effect of consumption of the banned pack sizes of alcoholic beverages are the under-aged and commercial vehicle drivers and riders.

“To curb the menace of abuse of alcohol, the World Health Organization recommended some actions and strategies to Policy-Makers that have shown to be effective and cost-effective, which include: regulating the marketing of alcoholic beverages (in particular to younger people) and regulating and restricting the availability of alcohol.”

She said in the course of enforcing the ban it was discovered that some manufacturers were still in production of the banned products and still had stacks of both finished products and packaging materials of the products in their possession.

“This situation is of course not acceptable, and the Agency views this as flagrant disobedience to the laws of Nigeria,” she noted.

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Health

Fed Govt to Increase Primary Health Centres from 8,300 to 17,600

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The Federal Government has said it will work with state governments and development partners to increase the number of primary healthcare centres from 8,300 to 17,600 nationwide in the next four years.

The initiative will be complemented with the training of 120,000 Frontline Health Workers who are expected to enter the Health sector soon as part of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

Coordinating Minister for Health and Social Welfare, Prof. Ali Pate, broke the news in his keynote address at a two-day meeting of Northeast Forum of Health Commissioners, which started yesterday in Maiduguri, the Borno State capital.

Pate, who was represented by the Executive Director of National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA), Dr. Muyi Aina, listed the three-pronged strategic approach adopted by the agency.

These, the minister said, include institutional strengthening and effective coordination of all primary healthcare services, efficient, equitable, quality and trust worthy services.

He said there would be a strong collaboration with all stakeholders towards achieving frontline health security and routinised basic health care services among others.

Pate stressed the need for collective interventions of Federal, state, and development partners to be more people-centred and well-coordinated to achieve the overall sustainable goals.

The Northeast, like many other parts of Nigeria, the minister regretted, still has unacceptably poor health induces which he said calls for a strong collaboration rather than fragmentation of efforts at the national and subnational levels.

Pate said: “The Nigerian Health Sector Renewal Investment Programme, which encapsulates our strategic vision for the sector, was geared towards cohesive common goal to save lives, reduce both physical and financial pains, and produce health for all Nigerians.”

Borno State Governor Babagana Zulum urged the World Health Organisations (WHO) to fulfill its promises to the state and prioritise enhanced TB reduction and management, provide DNA machines for gender-based violence management, build hospitals in Biu and Munguno local government areas.

Zulum stressed that “these promises were not mere expression of goodwill; they represented the lifelines for our people, for mothers delivering children, for victims of unimaginable violence, for the entire communities struggling against diseases”

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Health

FG Approves Establishment of Teaching Hospital in Taraba

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The Federal Government has approved the citing of a teaching hospital in Taraba State.

The teaching hospital to be sited at the federal university in Wukari local government council of the state was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari.

In a letter dated 26th of September 2022, the President gave the nod to the leadership of the institution to go ahead with the establishment of the health institution.

The letter which was signed on behalf of the Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, by the Director of Health, Teaching Hospital Division, Dr. Noah Andrew, urged the leadership of the university to make sure that all the needed facilities are in place.

He said, “kindly ensure that the University provides a conducive environment for the clinical training of paramedical students in medical and Allied Science.”

This, as stated in the letter, a copy of which was on Thursday made available to our state correspondent, can be actualized by “building lecture theaters.”

More to the requirements, the need for the leadership of the institution to as well build laboratories and hostels in the “newly established federal teaching hospital, Wukari” the letter said, has become necessary.

Part of the letter reads, “I am directed to refer to a letter dated 2nd September 2022 referenced SGF 6/T/380 from the Secretary of the Government of the Federation to inform you that His Excellency, President Mohammadu Buhari, has graciously approved the establishment of a federal teaching hospital for the federal University, Wukari, Taraba State.”

Overwhelmed by the tidings, some members of the host community who bared their minds on the development believed that the much-desired development would be heralded not only to the community but the local government council at large.

They were also of the view that several unemployed youths from the council and the state at large would be engaged by the hospital.

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