Kaduna, Nasarawa and Niger target 75% nutrition budget performance

Nutrition line Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) of Kaduna, Nasarawa and Niger states, have pegged a minimum nutrition budget performance benchmark at 75 per cent, to effectively reduce the burden of malnutrition.

The officials of the MDAs set the target in a communiqué made available to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Kaduna, on Saturday.

The communique was issued at the end of a two-day Health and Nutrition Budget Meeting for officials of nutrition line MDAs from the states, which held in Abuja.

The meeting was organised by Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Alive and Thrive (fhi360) and Save the Children International (SCI), to push for improved nutrition funding.

The officials noted that nutrition budgetary allocation and performance across the states had remained very low and insignificant to create the needed impact.

According to them, poor allocation and cash backing of budgetary releases continue to undermine the fight against malnutrition in states.

They, therefore, appealed to committees of the state assemblies, saddled with the responsibility of overseeing nutrition line MDAs, to ensure strict implementation of budgeted nutrition programmes, including timely releases of allocated funds through oversight.

“Focus should be placed on promotion and implementation of the multi-sectoral strategy action plan on food and nutrition.

“This will provide a platform for holistic delivery of nutrition specific and sensitive interventions in the three states that will ensure maximum results,” the officials said.

They described continuous advocacy and engagement of executive and legislative arms as ‘paramount’ to securing their buy-in for improved budget allocation and appropriation for nutrition activities.

They equally identified dearth of trained nutritionists in some states as an impediment to effective implementation and scale-up of nutrition specific interventions, especially at primary healthcare centres.

The officials, therefore, agreed to push for the recruitment and deployment of trained nutritionists to primary healthcare centres, while existing ones would be re-trained for optimal performance.

NAN reports that participants at the meeting included Chairmen and Members of the states assemblies committees on health, finance and appropriation, permanent secretaries and state’s accountants general.

Others were directors of the key line ministries of finance, planning and budget, health and agriculture, as well as states nutrition officers and the media.