Impact of nutrition on the productivity and healthy growth of nations
Nigeria has improved a lot from the socio-economic point of view unlike in recent years. The problem of malnutrition still affects some of its citizens. It has long been hampered by political instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure, and macroeconomic mismanagement. This has led it to over-reliance on the capital-intensive oil sector, which provides 20% of GDP, 95% of foreign exchange earnings and around 65% of budget revenue. But certain government and economic reforms have brought many improvements ranging from an estimated increase in its GDP of $430 per capita in 2003 to $1,000 in 2005. Reduction of the unemployment rate from 3.2% in 1997 to 2.9% in 2005. The adoption of microfinance banking and bank liquidation and consolidation by the CBN resulted in Nigerian banks being ranked as one of the best in Africa. The highlight of it all was the historic debt relief of $30 billion of Nigeria’s own $37 billion to the Paris Club in March 2006. Despite all these recent developments, 70% of Nigerians are still under the alienating hands of Nigeria. malnutrition and 60% in 2000 below the poverty line. I have categorized Nigeria’s nutritional problem for the sake of clarification into under-nutrition, over-nutrition and micro-nutrition. The purpose of this article is to review the government effort and also suggest ways to emanate the country from the alienating hands of poverty that threaten the future of the country.
Although the three nutritional problems constitute a summary of the malnutrition problem of the country, it will be good to review the complete problem one after the other. Malnutrition is the biggest nutritional problem that afflicts the majority of the population in rural areas and some of those who come to the city in search of better pastures. Malnutrition is characterized by an inadequate intake of macronutrients (ie, calories and protein). According to President Obasanjo, “almost half of children between the ages of 7 and 13 in Nigeria are underweight.” Many children and adults go to bed hungry, some eat one meal a day, and most of these meals are carbohydrates. This leads to malnutrition and protein deficiency. It is the main cause of kwashiorkor, which is more unique to people living in tropical Africa. For adults, the recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein is 0.79 g per kg (0.36 g per 1b) of body weight each day. For children and infants, this RDA is doubled and tripled, respectively, due to their rapid growth. This is the root cause of growth retardation and deformation in growing children. A fifth of Nigerian children die before the age of five, mainly because millions of Nigerians also live on less than a dollar a day, others live begging for food on the streets.
Overnutrition is mainly the problem of adults and some adolescents, especially urban dwellers. It is a rapidly increasing public nutrition problem, mainly reflecting changes in dietary patterns and more sedimentary lifestyles. The situation in Nigeria, where the economy favors one particular group over others, the poor getting poorer while the rich get richer, has led to a higher percentage of overnutrition: the great Nigerian man’s disease. This nutritional problem is now at an alarming rise in diet-related chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease, and various diet-related cancers. These chronic diseases caused human suffering, social distress, lost productivity, and economic burden on health and other economic sectors. The increase in the obsessed population in the country affects the labor force of the country and the productivity of the country both in the present and in the near future.
Last but not the list is micronutrient deficiencies. It is the inadequate intake of key vitamins and minerals. It is experienced by both the poor and the rich, rural and urban dwellers. It is hunger hidden under the guise of sufficiency in Nigerian society. The lack of vitamins and minerals results in an irreversible deterioration of the physical and mental development of the child. That is why this type of malnutrition is concentrated in pregnant women and children. Based on some empirical findings, it is observed that even moderate iodine deficiency during fetal development and childhood has been shown to reduce IQ levels by 10-15 points. Folic acid deficiency is linked to serious birth defects. Inadequate iron affects children’s growth and learning ability, and reduces their ability to concentrate, fully participate in school, and interact and develop in society; it also contributes to material mortality and reduced labor productivity. It is recorded that 40% of children under 5 years of age suffer from vitamin A deficiency.
The three main nutritional problems in Nigeria pose a major challenge to the country’s faltering economy, which has led to declining imports of expensive protein-rich foods, oil and animal feed. Many parents are now giving up breastfeeding and all of this and many others contribute to the risk of malnutrition in Nigeria, especially now that it is experiencing a rapid socio-economic revolution.
GOVERNMENT ACTION PRIOR TO DEMOCRACY
Nigeria’s economy was dominated by agriculture and trade, which flourished during colonial rule in the 19th century. In the 1960s and 1970s, the oil industry developed, leading to a large increase in export earnings and enabling massive investment in industry, agriculture, infrastructure, and social sciences.
Sharply falling oil prices, economic mismanagement, and continued military rule characterized Nigeria in the 1980s. In 1983, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) began providing assistance to Ministries of Nigeria Federal and State Health to develop and implement family planning and child survival programmes. In 1992, an HIV/AIDS prevention and control program was added to existing health activities. USAID committed $135 million for bilateral assistance programs during the period 1986-1996 as Nigeria launched an initially successful Structural Adjustment program but later abandoned it. Plans to commit $150 million in assistance between 1993 and 2003 were disrupted by tensions in US-Nigeria relations over human rights abuses, the failed transition to democracy, and the Nigerian government’s lack of cooperation on anti-war issues. drug trafficking. By the mid-1990s, these problems resulted in the reduction of USAID activities that could benefit the military government. Existing health programs were redesigned to focus on working through non-governmental organizations and grassroots Nigerian community groups.
In 1987, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), under the leadership of Principal Investigator Dr. Kenton Dashiell, launched a mixed effort in Nigeria to combat widespread malnutrition. They encouraged the use of nutrients, cheap soybeans in daily food. They further said that soybeans are about 40% higher in protein than any of the common plant or animal food sources found in Africa. With the addition of corn, rice and other cereals to soybeans, the resulting protein meets the standard of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Soybeans also contain approximately 20% oil, which is 85% unsaturated and cholesterol free. Although many good malnutrition relief programs began in this period, there were many other socioeconomic thorns in the way of the popularity and proper functioning of these programs until the democratic period. Economic instability within this period favored malnutrition largely due to autocratic rule. There was little to no in-depth effort to combat malnutrition. The period can be identified as the egoistic period, when the governmental private interest dominated at the expense of the suffering masses.
THE SUBSEQUENT INTERVENTION
The most interesting part of this period is that it is characterized by promise and hope. Promise that is the main working tool of this period and hope always present to sustain the promise. President Obasanjo in a 2002 meeting with the president of the International Union of Nutritional Sciences vowed to support better coordination of nutritional activities and programs in Nigeria, further saying, “the high prevalence of malnutrition is totally unacceptable to this government and assured the IUNS president that he would do everything possible to ensure that resources are available to improve household food security, greater access to health services and better caregiving capacity for mothers, including the support for the promotion of breastfeeding.
On 27 September 2005, Nigerian Chief President Olusegun Obasanjo launched the Nasarawa State School Feeding Program at Laminga Primary School. The program is fully funded and administered by the Nasarawa State, making it a unique model in Africa today. The epoch-making event fulfills one of the promises of combating malnutrition, especially among children, of whom he observed that many between the ages of 7 and 13 are underweight. In addition, it promises to reach some 27 million children over the next 10 years.
Other international organizations such as the World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations International Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), which started in 1992 but became more entrenched during the democratic regime. All of them and many more are fighting hard to eradicate poverty and malnutrition.
There are many challenges that exist in some nutrition improvement programs. There is a need for the government to put some nutritional research into national policy. They should be able to reach every corner of the country. They must be able to coordinate all sectors of the agencies against malnutrition. A more effective intervention is much needed.
Nutrition is now a topic of intervention at stake and also the unavoidable duty of each nation. Although it is difficult to bring a solution to every man’s doorstep, the government should try as far as possible to reach the people through mobile agencies and mass media. There should be a lot of effective research done in the nation to be updated with information like; average government investment in nutrition per capita, current nutrition deficiency statutes and information on nutrition initiatives, as well as national policy frameworks and inter-agency coordination mechanisms. It is necessary to promote the nutritional organization, especially the non-governmental organization. The government should try to improve the socioeconomic life of the people. Agriculture should be encouraged and improved in the country. There should be a control of the nutritional value of each product, both imported and non-imported. The government should promote a global nutrition agenda, which would increase the visibility of nutrition at the national level and beyond.
If the solutions suggested above were taken into account, Nigeria would greatly improve as the giant of Africa and the future giant of the world economy, thus clearing the future economic storm Nigeria is facing due to some of its citizens suffering from problems nutritional. .