The Honorable Minister for Budget and Economic Planning, Senator Abubakar Bagudu has said that there is need for members of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria to prioritize innovation and research in the field of nutrition towards the attainment of Sustainable Development Goals, Universal Health Coverage and transformation of the landscape of nutrition in Nigeria

Senator Bagudu stated this on Tuesday while speaking at  the 53rd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, NSN, in Abuja.

The Honorable Minister revealed that Nigeria currently requires Nutrition professionals that have extensive knowledge, good communication skills to address nutrition education, emotional intelligent as well as a good understanding of self- motivation and drive to address nutrition dynamics.

He told the leadership of NSN  to embrace technology, leverage digital solutions, and invest in research and development to find sustainable and scalable solutions to Nigeria’s nutrition challenges.

Bagudu expressed confidence that through collective efforts, we can improve nutrition leadership and workforce capacity, paving  way for improved health and development in Nigeria.

“As members of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria, we are part of a community that is uniquely positioned to lead the charge in addressing our nation’s nutritional challenges. Our shared commitment to improving nutrition and public health, our dedication to evidence-based practices, and our collective wisdom make us a formidable force for positive change.” The Honorable Minister stated.

Bagudu restated the commitment of the Federal Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning to strengthen the coordination and provide the required leadership for nutrition sector.

Speaking on the  theme for the conference:“Strengthening Nutrition Leadership and Workforce Capacity for Improved Health and Development in Nigeria” , the Minister averred that the theme speaks to the  recognition of  the enormous challenges of food and nutrition as well as healthy diet by the current administration under President Bola Tinubu.

In his words: “It is important to remind ourselves that the theme of this year’s conference underscores a fundamental truth and to effect meaningful change, we must strengthen not only our understanding of nutrition but also our leadership in this field and the capacity of our workforce. It is a call to action for all of us to rise to the occasion, to assume leadership roles, and to equip ourselves with the knowledge and skills needed to drive real change.”

While saying that Nigeria loses US$1.5 billion in GDP annually due to micronutrient deficiencies alone,  the Honorable Minister revealed that the statistics shows the tremendous economic impact of high levels of malnutrition for prolonged periods on the economy.

He noted that the current economic crisis that emanated  from the COVID-19 pandemic has made it more difficult for individuals to afford good nutrition due to income declines for the poorest and most vulnerable households.

He reiterated that, the present administration’s response to fight against malnutrition as reflected in the coordination effort of the Federal Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, has been swift and result-oriented.

This, according to him, is evident in the inclusion of nutrition in the National Development Plan (NDP 2021-2025) as well as “The Nigeria Agenda 2050”. It is also a commitment to achieving optimal nutrition status for all Nigerians with particular attention to the vulnerable group as highlighted in the National Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition (NMPFAN 2021-2025).

In his goodwill message, the Governor of Kwara State , AbdulRahman AbdulRasaq lauded the contribution of Senator Bagudu during his tenure as the Governor of Kebbi State and Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum , saying that the Honorable Minister devoted himself to the Service for humanity.

Governor AbdulRasaq who is also the Chairman of the 53rd Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference  of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria commended, NSN, for remarkable progress in advancing nutrition awareness , saying that the body has been a beacon of hope in Nigeria’s journey towards a healthier and more prosperous country.

He said the Nigerian Governors’ Forum , NGF has identified areas of key commitments for the realization of a healthier citizen and country including increasing budgetary spending on nutrition and Strengthening nutrition profile.

He disclosed that the NGF has resolved to resuscitate  state committee for food and nutrition for effective food nutrition across the country in addition to developing sectorial plan actions of food and nutrition in line with the national plan, among others.

The President Nutrition Society of Nigeria , Prof Wasiu Afolabi during his address, acknowledged the Federal government administration for granting a Presidential directive for the creation of Nutrition Deportment  in line Ministries and Agencies of Government as well as ensuring nutrition budget and appropriation in 2023.

He specifically thanked the President, His Excellency Bola Ahmed Tinubu (GCFR) and the Vice President, His Excellency Kashim Shettima (GCON) who received in audience, members of the National Council on Nutrition (NCN) on Tuesday 5th September 2023 at the State House Abuja.

The President said that he was pleased with the Vice President for emphasizing the adoption of technology, use of digital solutions and investment in research and development to discover sustainable and scalable solutions to Nigeria’s nutrition challenges.

According to him, the Vice President had said that “We must collaborate to enhance nutrition governance, ensure the widespread availability of nutritious food, champion optimal infant and young child nutrition, and bolster education and awareness campaigns.”

The Programme also had in attendance dignitaries including the Professor of Nutrition, North-West University, Centre of Excellence for Nutrition and Director of African  Nutrition Leadership Programme, South Africa, Prof. Johann C Jerling.