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COVID-19: Experts urge increased efforts against nutrition disruptions

Nutrition experts have called for policies and initiatives that will address worsening malnutrition particularly protein deficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. They made the…

Nutrition experts have called for policies and initiatives that will address worsening malnutrition particularly protein deficiency during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

They made the call during a webinar with the theme “protein deficiency in a pandemic” organised by Mediacrafts Associates.

Dr. Adepeju  Adeniran, a public health expert, called for implementation of  policies to ease the journey of food crops, especially protein-rich food crops, from the farmlands to the consumers.  She said COVID-19  pandemic affected food production, supply: transport and logistics and food education and domestic food security as well as health sector, domestic spending, GDP, and household finances.

She said malnutrition is multi-factorial and anything that affects any of the sectors would eventually affect malnutrition. “Malnutrition will have “short-term” or acute effects and “long-term” or chronic effects. In the short term; energy foods like carbohydrates will be focused on. The hidden truth is that protein sources will show their effects slightly later, but just as impactful,” she said.

Beatrice Chinyem Oganah-Ikujenyo, a nutritionist and Chief lecturer, Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education, said people most likely to suffer protein deficiency include infants and children under five years, school age children (6 – 12 years), adolescents (11 – 19years) and pregnant and lactating mothers.

She said, “These persons are vulnerable in normal times and much more at risk in a pandemic due to the socio-economic and psychological consequences of pandemics”

The nutritionist said some useful tips to prevent protein deficiency are consumption of adequate meals, and use of healthy cooking methods that conserve nutrients.

“There may be need for food complementation and supplementation  to meet daily protein, vitamins and mineral requirements respectively. This also helps to improve health and vitality of the body

Change in lifestyle – go back to the days where every family have a cultivated land for food crops(okra, leafy vegetables, plantain, etc). This will reduce the pressure on the available food for sale in the markets

Consumption of edible insects (Entomophagy) – this was common practice in the 70s and 80s. (they contain high quality protein & vitamins,” she advised.

Dr Monica Omo-Irefo said prevention of malnutrition in children starts with an emphasis on prenatal nutrition and good prenatal care.

She said malnutrition imposes a huge burden globally and that prevention measures are very important.

 

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