The COVID-19 pandemic has brought social and economic crisis that is rapidly exacerbating an ongoing nutrition insecurity in Nigeria.
To contain the spread of the pandemic in Nigeria, the government has put in place a number of measures, one of which is the lockdown in the three states of Lagos, Ogun, FCT and lately Kano, which have high COVID-19 confirmed cases. Similarly, several other states have adopted measures, such as movement restriction, in order to curb the spread of the pandemic.
The lockdown triggered by COVID-19 have led to disruption in health, nutrition, food aid, school feeding, safety net/social protection and Early Childhood Development services with high impacts on the vulnerable groups. The lockdown has also resulted in limited access to food and its supply chains leading to restriction in the availability of and people’s access to sufficient/diverse and nutritious food and supplements provided through the health care facilities. Malnutrition and other co-morbidities (for example HIV, tuberculosis) are considered a risk factor for complications in people with COVID-19, due to a compromised immune system.
Like many other African countries, there was concern of nutrition situation in Nigeria before the COVID-19 pandemic. Stunting and wasting rates were 37% and 7% respectively. Deficiencies in key micronutrients were also widely affecting the Nigerian population, mainly children and women with only 34.5% children 6-23 months old meeting the minimum dietary diversity needed to ensure adequate intake of micronutrients such as vitamin A, iron, zinc and iodine. Equally, less than half of children in Nigeria eat iron rich/fortified foods. There is concern that the prevalence of child stunting, wasting, and micronutrient deficiencies is expected to increase in the coming months due to the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, with attendant limited access to adequate, diverse and nutritious foods. To tackle these impacts on the nutritional wellbeing of vulnerable population, the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with Nutrition Stakeholders has developed a COVID-19 Pandemic Response plan.
2.0 OBJECTIVES OF THE PLAN
The overall objective of the Plan is to ensure the integration of nutrition into the National COVID-19 response plan because of the central importance of good nutrition in supporting immune function and preventing a worsening of the nutrition situation of the vulnerable populations in Nigeria. The specific objectives are to:
- Offer strategies to ensure the continuity of critical nutrition interventions to vulnerable populations during the pandemic,
- Outline priority interventions to ensure good nutrition during COVID-19 pandemic situation.
- Propose mitigation measures to limit the impact of COVID-19 on the nutritional status of the vulnerable groups 4. Mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the food system.
- Develop guidance for actions for ensuring safe, resilient markets and food supply chains;
- Develop a Food and Nutrition Communication Framework/plan.