Some nutrition stakeholders have called for the collaboration of individuals, public and private institutions to tackle the increasing incidence of Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA) in Nigeria.
The stakeholders, including Nestlé Nigeria and Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), made the call at the launch of a campaign tagged: “Live Strong With Iron’’ (LSWI) on Wednesday.
According to them, there is an urgent need for increased awareness and education on iron deficiency to prevent its negative impacts on the growth and development of individuals and the nation.
Dr Elijah Ogunsola, Secretary, Ogun State Primary Healthcare Board, described anaemia as a condition that is marked by low levels of haemoglobin in the blood.
“Iron deficiency is a common cause of anaemia and is estimated to be responsible for half of all anaemic cases in women and children globally,’’ he said.
Ogunsola said that some of the causes of anaemia include malaria, hook worm and chronic infections.
According to him, anaemia is a serious concern for children because it impairs cognitive development and is also associated with long health and economic consequences.
Also, Prof. Wao Afolabi, the National President of NSN, represented by Mr Sam Yuwa, immediate Past Vice President of NSN, said: “Iron deficiency is the most prevalent nutrition problem in the world.
“It accounts for about 75 per cent of all types of anaemia, particularly in pregnancy.
“Causes of iron deficiency include inadequate dietary intake of iron rich foods, previous pregnancy, loss of iron in menstrual blood, low education level and economic status’’.
Afolabi said that children in rural areas were more likely to be anaemic than those in urban areas.
“There is an urgent need for an increased awareness and education on iron deficiency in order to prevent further increase in the prevalence of iron deficiency.
“Also, to prevent its negative impacts on the growth and development of individuals and the nation,” he said.
Dr Akua Kwakwa, Nutrition, Health and Wellness Manager for Nestlé Central and West Africa, said that iron deficiency is one of the burdens of malnutrition in Nigeria.
Kwakwa said available data showed that 68 per cent of children under-five tears were anaemic.
Also, about 50 per cent of women between 15 and 49 years were iron deficient.
According to her, achieving a healthier future and improving micronutrient deficiency in Nigeria is possible if individuals are educated on proper nutrition and how to make the right food choices.
“Let us leverage our platforms and influence to create awareness and encourage the balanced consumption of our local nutrient-dense foods.
“Let us limit public health sensitive nutrients such as, sodium, saturated fats and added sugars,’’ she said.
Kwakwa recommended “MyMenuIQ’’, a website that provides recipes and nutritional tips, including eating local foods that help the body absorb more iron.
In her remarks, Victoria Uwadoka, Corporate Communications and Public Affairs Manager, Nestlé Nigeria, said that future steps in the campaign plan, with the hashtag #LiveStrongwithIron, included community advocacy initiatives, iron screenings and media amplification.
Others include television, radio educational series, education on social media platforms and cooking demonstrations.