The Lagos State Government has called for proper hygiene in the handling and preparation of food to reduce malnutrition in children across the State.

Speaking at a sensitisation and advocacy programme organised for Food Handlers and Health Teachers in the Lagos Central Senatorial District in Surulere on Thursday, Permanent Secretary, Office of Environmental Services, Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources, Mrs. Aderonke Odeneye said that the programme was aimed at eradicating malnutrition in Lagos State. 

She said the effects of consuming unwholesome food that contains infectious or toxic substances is injurious to health, adding that malnutrition remains a major health problem with consequences that are too grave to be ignored, noting that long-term malnutrition leads to stunted growth, non-communicable chronic diet-related disorder, increased morbidity and mortality.

The Permanent Secretary, represented by the Director, Environmental Education Unit, Mrs. Monsurat Banire, disclosed that it is estimated that 30% of deaths in children under five years of age are attributed to mild malnutrition.

She said the overall goal of Nigeria’s Food and Nutrition Policy is structured towards an increased awareness on the need to eat healthily, ensure good nutrition for sustainable energy and good health.  

Odeneye epressed the Ministry’s determination to continue to embark on sensitisation and awareness campaigns in Lagos State to ensure compliance with best standard practices to ensure quality, safe and hygienic food. 

She noted that UNICEF has been supporting Nigeria’s community-based programme in the treatment of severe acute malnutrition, adding that the programme has grown significantly to become one of the largest UNICEF-supported treatment programmes in the world. 

The Permanent Secretary maintained that statistics have shown that 50% of cases of children with nutrition-related issues in their first 1000 days on earth are due to excessive feeding or underfeeding, which results in stunted growth among them.

A Guest Speaker and Professor of Nutritional Biochemistry, Lagos State University, Prof. Oluwatosin Adu, said the problems associated with food safety and poor nutrition are real, adding that adequate nutrition is everyone’s business.

He, therefore, called on all participants to engage in safe food practices, which will in turn help reduce the rate of illness and malnutrition among children resulting from improper handling of food.

The Coordinator and Nutrition Desk Officer, Mrs. Aderemi Falaye, called on the stakeholders to desist from activities that could make food unsafe for the people.

The Sensitisation and Advocacy programme, which had in attendance School Owners, Health Teachers and Food Handlers from Local Governments and Local Council Development Areas under the Lagos Central Senatorial District will be reciprocated in other Senatorial Districts in the State.