Experts and stakeholders have called for concerted action to address the challenge of iron deficiency in Nigeria. The call was made at the launch of ‘Live Strong with Iron’ (LSWI) campaign in Abuja to mark the World Health Day 2021.
According to the Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2018, 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 anemia attributable to iron deficiency.
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.
This is why Nestlé has joined forces with other stakeholders including the Office of the First Lady, Federal Ministry of Health, Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Nutrition Society of Nigeria to combat the menace of Iron Deficiency. The stakeholders who gathered at the public launch made commitments to work together to create awareness of and to promote consumption of locally available iron-rich and iron-fortified foods in Nigeria.
Speaking on Live Strong With Iron, the MD/CEO of Nestlé Nigeria, Wassim Elhusseini said, “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.”
Also speaking at the event, the Minister of Women Affairs, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ambassador Anthonia A. Ekpa, PhD, said “Globally, children and women are more at risk of iron deficiency and anemia. 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 on 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.”
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.
The public launch of the Live Strong With Iron campaign was attended by Government officials, Health experts, Nutritionists, professional organizations and media who came together to align on the roles each party would play in the efforts to curb iron deficiency. A key commitment by all stakeholders and participants at the event was to not only consume, but also to promote consumption of locally available iron-rich and iron-fortified foods in Nigeria.