The Private Sector Health Alliance of Nigeria (PHN) has launched moves to mobilise the private sector to fight malnutrition in the country.
The organisation, which was recently inaugurated and endorsed by Mr. Bill Gates, and is supported by key players in the private sector, had kicked off the first ever Nutrition Market Shaping Private Sector Engagement in Nigeria, in line with its vision to save one million lives by 2015.
Malnutrition is the underlying cause of about half the number of deaths recorded in children under the age of five years in Nigeria, with severe acute malnutrition affecting millions of Nigerian children, a condition that has led to numerous complications for them.
Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF), has revolutionised the treatment of severe malnutrition, in spite of the demand, there was currently no manufacturing capacity for this life saving commodity in Nigeria, making the country to depend on importation of RUTF from countries such as Niger, the United States and France.
A statement yesterday by the organisation said in order to address the shortcoming, PHN in partnership with UNICEF, had mobilised over 20 private sector companies as well as public sector agencies such as the National Agency for Food and Drugs Administration and Control (NAFDAC), Ministry of Agriculture and donor partners to kick off the country’s maiden nutrition RUTF market shaping private sector engagement with 20 potential local producers of RUTF.
The goal is to build the capacity and prime the private sector to ensure that by 2015 and 2016, Nigeria is more advanced in its quest to have RUTF local producers that meet international quality standards.
PHN Chief Executive Office, Muntaqa Umar-Sadiq, said: “We have engaged 20 private sector players, including the regulatory agencies by building their capacity with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) providing technical and operational guideline on best practices needed to begin the manufacture of RUTFs.
“We are committed to mobilising Nigeria’s private sector to harness its collective capabilities to realise synergies for catalytic impact."