A recent report from UNICEF shows that Nigeria as a country loses 145 women and 2,300 children between the ages of 0-5 years every day. While there are a variety of causes such as disease, one of the largest culprits in this tragedy is malnutrition. In Nigeria, malnutrition accounts for over 50% of morbidity and mortality in a large proportion of children between the ages of 0-5.
In view of this, eHealth Africa (eHA) is developing a new partnership with HarvestPlus to address malnutrition in Northern Nigeria through production and consumption of biofortified foods. eHealth Africa’s Nutrition and Food Security Program Manager Dr. Sarma Mallubhotla hosted representatives of HarvestPlus:Country Director Paul Ilona and Communications Manager Ifeoma Okonkwo. The representatives met with eHA Executive Director Adam Thompson, Deputy Country Director Atef Fawaz, and various program managers. They also met with Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Coordinators, as well as the Global Health Informatics team leads.
To start the brainstorming session, representatives from both eHA and HarvestPlus provided overviews of their organizations. After these introductions, discussions were held on how the proposed partnership could help introduce more nutritious Provitamin A rich Maize and Cassava, Iron rich Sorghum, and Zinc Rice to farmers in Northern Nigeria. The discussion also explored possible ways to create awareness of the nutritious value of the crops and encourage their uptake across the value chain. All of these discussions are focused on one goal: improving the diet of the most vulnerable population in Nigeria.
HarvestPlus leads a global effort to improve nutrition and public health by developing and disseminating staple food crops that are rich in vitamins and minerals. HarvestPlus works with public and private sector partners in more than 40 countries and is part of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR), and the Research Program on Agriculture for Nutrition and Health (A4NH), which helps realize the potential of agricultural development to deliver gender equitable health and nutritional benefits to the poor.
As a result of this joint brainstorming session, eHA and HarvestPlus are looking forward to developing a collaborative agreement and detailed work plan to build a productive partnership that will contribute to the fight against malnutrition in Nigeria.