A public health consultant, Dr Francis Ohanyido, says there need for pregnant women to access and use Multiple Micronutrient Supplements (MMS) because of the dire consequences on the mother and child.
According to him, deficiency in important micronutrients and malnutrition still remains a major challenge in Nigeria.
Ohanyido, Country Director of Vitamin Angels, Nigeria, made the assertion at a two-day media engagement and capacity-building workshop on MMS in pregnancy in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that according to the World Health Organisation, micronutrients are vitamins and minerals needed by the body in very small amounts.
However, their impact on a body’s health are critical, and deficiency in any of them can cause severe and even life-threatening conditions.
They include iron, vitamin B6, vitamin C, vitamin E, magnesium, zinc, iodine among others.
According to Ohanyido, in Nigeria, the most common micronutrient deficiencies include iron, folate, iodine, vitamin A, and zinc.
“Pregnant women in low- and middle-income countries (LMICs), including Nigeria are at increased risk of being deficient in multiple, critically important, micronutrients.
“However, poor maternal nutrition has dire consequences for women and children.”
“Micronutrient deficiencies can have lifelong impacts on a child’s physical, mental, and emotional development.’’
Ohanyido said: “One of the things done in public health which is important is giving supplements to vulnerable groups who need certain micronutrients.
“A lot of children are vulnerable to infections like measles. As a sort of preventative measure in public health, micronutrients are given to prevent chances of deficiencies.
“Because a mother is carrying a foetus, the demand on her body’s nutrients increases which needs proper supplements to help the immune system response.
“Multiple micronutrient supplements (MMS), commonly referred to as prenatal multivitamins, are one of the most impactful nutrition interventions that significantly improve maternal health and birth outcomes.
“MMMS contains 15 essential vitamins and minerals for pregnant and nursing women and meets micronutrient requirements that poor diets cannot meet.
“It has significant benefits compared to Iron and Folic Acid (IFA) which contains just 2 essential vitamins and minerals.”
According to Ohanyido, MMS is a part of an inclusive strategy by the Federal Government to reduce the prevalence of malnutrition in Nigeria.
“Vitamin Angels’ programme seeks increased improvement of maternal malnutrition and accessibility of MMS across the country as well as more funding from every level of government to achieve desired goals,’’ he said.
On some of the ways to address the situation, he said it was important for the Federal Government to prioritise the national guidelines for the prevention and control of micronutrient deficiency diseases in the country.
According to him, improving knowledge and awareness of micronutrient deficiency control as well as effective implementation are important areas of public-private sector collaboration.
The delivery of evidence-based and effective micronutrient interventions, strengthened research, monitoring and evaluation of Micronutrient Deficiency Control (MNDC) programmes are also essential.
He called for collaboration among NGOs and public-private actors to boost access and integration of nutrition within health systems.
Mr Christian Ugbo, Pharmaceutical Logistic Specialist, Vitamin Angels, said: “Before now, MMS was not widely known in Nigeria.
“But with this project, I can say the technical services that we provide, strengthening of the health system by building the capacity of health workers and community volunteers have increased their knowledge about evidence-based nutrition interventions.
“Ordinarily, knowledge transfer helps raise awareness and increase nutrition interventions acceptability.
“Our programme efforts have made significant progress over the last year despite COVID-19. We convened the first community of practice for nutrition with the Federal Ministry of Health,” he said. (NAN)(www.nannews.ng)