Nigerian Heart Foundation launches home-grown school feeding program

There is no gainsaying the fact that nutrition is key to child survival and gives children the chance of a good start in life so that they grow up to fulfill their potential and prevent life style diseases in later years. But how true is the statement in Nigeria?

Reports show that the health of majority of Nigerian children is threatened by risk factors related to consumption of unhealthy diet. No thanks to the fact that significant proportions of Nigerians are unable to feed their children with nutritious diet as a result many Nigerian children are seriously hit with malnutrition while about 40 per cent are stunted.

Nutrition experts have affirmed that training children in healthy eating would affect cognition in such children and translate to healthy eating. It has also been found that lack of nutritious food coupled with infection and illness means their bodies and brains will not develop properly.

For these reason and more, the Nigerian Heart Foundation, NHF, last week launched a Home Grown School Feeding and Health Programme, HGSFHP, aimed at improving the nutritional status of children as well as increase enrolment, retention and completion rate in Primary Schools.

Executive Director ,NHF, Dr Kingsley Akinroye, said a whole society approach is needed to protect and improve children’s nutritional status especially children between age two and seven years as they are most vulnerable to malnutrition.

Akinroye said the leaflet with inscription: “Health Meals make Healthy Children”, called on all tiers of government to support the programme from kindergarten to primary school, said it would run in all public owned schools. He said it HGSFHP was initially introduced under President Olusegun Obasanjo in 12 selected states in 2005- 2006, but regretted that only Osun continued the programme.

The Programme which has a direct bearing on the MDGs was expected to be funded by the three tiers of government with the state and local government having the highest share. Unfortunately, out of the 12 pilot states, only Osun has continued the programme. Lagos, Ogun, Ekiti and Ondo states have indicated interest. 

Introduction of HGSFHP as recorded in Osun State will improve school enrolment & learning, improve health nutrition, and sanitary practices of the pupils, thereby reducing health maintenance cost and infant mortality rate, job creation and empowerment o the women. Farmers will have a ready market. It will also help government tackle hunger and improve nutrition in public schools.

Already, NHF has documented the best practices of the HGSFHP in a leaflet which is the end product of intensive research, workshops and interactions with commissioners, permanent secretaries in health and education ministries in five Southwest States started since two years ago.

By Chioma Obinna 

Read the original article from Vanguard News

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