Stakeholders, who gathered today at the launch of the ‘Live Strong with Iron’ (LSWI) campaign in Abuja to mark World Health Day 2021, have agreed that there is a need for Nigerians to consume more Iron-fortified foods.
This follows data from the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2018, which disclosed that Nigeria has an alarming prevalence of Iron Deficiency: 68% of children 6–59 months of age and 58% of women of reproductive age in Nigeria are anemic, with at least a third of the anemias attributable to iron deficiency.
Organized by Nestle in collaboration with the Office of the First Lady, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Nutrition Society of Nigeria, the stakeholders made commitments to work together to create awareness to promote the consumption of locally available iron-rich and iron-fortified foods in Nigeria.
They argued that such a move will help to combat the menace of Iron Deficiency.
Speaking on the Live Strong With Iron campaign, the MD/CEO of Nestlé Nigeria, Wassim Elhusseini noted that the campaign aims to support governments’ efforts to address Iron Deficiency in view of the high incidence in our environment.
”It is important to note that Nestlé has sustained food fortification as a strategy to curb micronutrient deficiency in the subregion. Another Strategy that Nestlé adopts to enable people live healthier is by providing adequate information for more informed nutrition choices. We are therefore excited to work alongside all the stakeholders convened here today, to call attention to the rich resource of iron-dense locally available foods that each family can access to improve the current statistics on Iron Deficiency,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Minister of Women Affairs represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Anthonia A. Ekpa, has argued that globally, children and women are more at risk of iron deficiency and anemia.
She said the consumption of iron-rich foods, which are locally available and affordable, remains an effective means of addressing this challenge.
“The Federal Ministry of Women Affairs will support this public health awareness campaign, as it has valuable content that will positively impact the health of a huge percentage of Nigerians. We are committed to collaborating with stakeholders for the overall development of women and children in Nigeria,” she stressed.
The Live Strong with Iron campaign supports efforts to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Good health and wellbeing), looking towards improving the health of millions of Nigerians. Through the campaign, the collaborators will support community advocacy programs, broadcast and social media campaigns, to drive change in nutrition behavior, choice and consumption in order to meet daily iron requirements.
It is celebrated on April 7 every year, The World Health Day aims to create awareness and highlight priority areas of health concerns. In view of the high incidences of Iron deficiency and the attendant dire consequences, this remains a priority area of concern for Nigeria.