A Bad Economy Reduced Funds For Animal Control And The Impact Of Nutrition On Nations Produtivity And Healthy Growth

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Impact Of Nutrition On Nations Produtivity And Healthy Growth

Nigeria has improved a lot socio-economically unlike its past years. The problem of malnutrition still awaits some of its citizens. It has long been hampered by political instability, corruption, inadequate infrastructure and poor macroeconomic management. This has led it to become overly dependent on the capital-intensive oil sector, which provides 20% of GDP, 95% of foreign exchange earnings and about 65% of budget revenue. But several government and economic reforms have brought many improvements starting from an estimated increase in its GDP from $430 per capita in 2003 to $1000 in 2005. Reduction of the unemployment rate from 3.2% in 1997 to 2.9% in 2005. The approval of micro-finance banks and the liquidation and consolidation of banks by the CBN resulted in Nigerian banks being rated as one of the best in Africa. The culmination of all this was the historic debt relief of $30 billion out of the $37 billion held by Nigeria to the Paris Club in March 2006. Despite all these recent developments, 70% of Nigerians are still under the alienated hands of malnutrition and 60% in 2000 below the poverty line. I have categorized the Nigerian nutritional problem for the sake of clarity into undernutrition, overnutrition and micronutrition. The purpose of this article is to review the efforts of the government and also suggest ways to emanate the country from the alienating hands of poverty that threatens the future of the country.

FOOD PROBLEMS.

Although the three food problems constitute a summary of the problem of malnutrition in the country, it would be good to review the whole problem one by one. Malnutrition is the biggest food problem that mostly hit people in rural areas and some who went to the city in search of greener pastures. Malnutrition is characterized by insufficient intake of macro-nutrients (namely: calories and proteins). According to President Obasanjo, “almost half of children aged 7+-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 high in carbohydrates. This leads to malnutrition and protein deficiency. It is the main cause of kwashiorkor, which is more unique to people living in the tropical region of 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 main cause of stunted growth and deformity in growing children. A fifth of Nigerian children die before the age of five, mostly from the millions of Nigerians who also live on less than a dollar a day, others live by begging for food on the streets.

Overnutrition is mainly the problem of adults and a few teenagers, especially city dwellers. It is a rapidly escalating public food problem, largely reflecting changing dietary patterns and more sedentary lifestyles. The situation in Nigeria where the economy favors a certain group over others, the poor get poorer while the rich get richer, has resulted in a higher rate of overnutrition – the great Nigerian disease. This food problem is now at an alarming rise in diet-related chronic diseases such as type II diabetes, hypertension, cardiovascular disease and some diet-related cancers. These chronic diseases caused human suffering, social distress, lost productivity and economic burden on health and other economic sectors. The growth of the country’s fixed population affects the country’s labor force and the country’s productivity both now and in the near future.

Last but not the least is micronutrient deficiency. It is insufficient 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 irreversible damage to the child’s physical and mental development. That is why this type of malnutrition is centered on pregnant women and children. According to some empirical conclusions, it is observed that even a moderate lack of iodine during fetal development and infancy has been shown to lower IQ levels by 10-15 points. Folic acid deficiency is linked to serious birth defects. Insufficient iron affects children’s growth and learning ability and reduces their ability to concentrate, participate fully in school and socially interact and develop; it also contributes to material mortality and reduced labor productivity. It has been recorded that 40% of children under the age of 5 suffer from vitamin A deficiency.

The three major nutritional problems in Nigeria pose a major challenge to the country’s faltering economy, leading to a decline in imports of costly protein-rich food, oil and animal feed. Many parents now abandon the task of breastfeeding and all this and many more contribute to the risk of malnutrition in Nigeria and more so now that she is undergoing a rapid socio-economic revolution.

GOVERNMENT ACTION BEFORE 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 and fueled a huge increase in export earnings and allowed massive investment in industry, agriculture, infrastructure and the social sciences.

A sharp drop in 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 the Nigerian Federal and State Ministries of Health to develop and implemented programs in family planning and child survival. In 1992, an HIV/AIDS prevention and control program was added to existing health activities USAID committed $135 million to bilateral assistance programs for the period 1986-1996 after Nigeria undertook an initially successful Structural Adjustment program, but later later abandoned it. Plans to provide $150 million in aid from 1993 to 2003 were interrupted by tensions in US-Nigerian relations over human rights abuses, the failed transition to democracy, and a lack of cooperation from the Nigerian government on anti-narcotics trafficking issues. . By the mid-1990s, these problems resulted in a reduction in USAID activities that could benefit the military government. Existing health programs were redesigned to focus on working through Nigerian non-governmental organizations and grassroots community groups.

In 1987, the International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA), under Principal Researcher Dr Kenton Dashiell, launched an obscure effort in Nigeria to combat widespread malnutrition. They encouraged the use of nutritious, economical soybeans in daily food. They further stated that soybeans are about 40% richer in protein than any common plant or animal food source found in Africa. By adding corn, rice and other grains to soy, the resulting protein meets the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) standard. Soy also contains about 20% oil, which is 85% unsaturated and cholesterol-free. Although many auspicious programs to alleviate malnutrition were launched in this period, there were also many other socio-economic thorn that hindered the popularity and proper functioning of these programs until the democratic period. Economic instability in this period favored malnutrition to a large extent due to autocratic governance. There was little or no in-depth effort to combat malnutrition. The period can be identified as the selfish period – when private governmental interest dominated at the expense of the suffering masses.

LATER INTERVENTION

The most interesting part of this period is that it is characterized by promise and hope. The promise that is the main tool of the work of this period and the ever-present hope to keep the promise. President Obasanjo in 2002 meeting with the president of the International Union of Food Sciences promised to support better coordination of nutrition activities and programs in Nigeria, he further said, “the high prevalence of malnutrition is totally unacceptable to this government and he assured the IUNS president that he would do everything possible to ensure that resources are available to improve family food security, greater access to health care services and better maternal care capacity, including support for the promotion of breastfeeding.

On September 27, 2005, Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo’s Chief of Staff lunched the Nasarawa State School Feeding Program at Laminga Primary School. The program is fully funded and administered by Nasarawa State, making it a unique model in Africa today. The epoch-making event is in fulfillment of one of the promises to fight malnutrition, especially among children, who he noted that many between the ages of 7-13 are underweight. It further promises to reach around 27 million children over the next 10 years.

Other international bodies 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 took more root during the democratic regime . All of them and many others 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 the nook and cranny of the country. They should be able to coordinate all sectors of anti-malnutrition agencies. A more effective intervention is badly needed.

Nutrition is now an intervening issue an interest and also inevitable duty of every nation. Although it is difficult to bring solutions to every person’s doorstep, but the government should try as much as possible to reach people through mobile agencies and mass media. There should be a lot of effective research done in the country to be updated with information such as; average government investment in nutrition per capital, current malnutrition statuses and information on nutrition initiatives, as well as national policy frameworks and inter-agency coordination mechanisms. There is a need to promote food organizations especially, non-governmental organizations. The government should try to improve the socio-economic life of the people. Agriculture should be encouraged and improved in the country. There should be a check on the nutritional value of every 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 these solutions suggested above were taken into consideration, Nigeria would be greatly improved as the giant of Africa and the future giant of the world economy, thus clearing the coming economic storm that Nigeria is facing due to several of its citizens suffering from food problems. .

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