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Iron Deficiency, public health issue demanding immediate attention, Nestlé says

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By Vivian Ihechu

Nestlé Nigeria Plc says there is an urgent need to tackle iron deficiency in the country as its incidence has been shown to be high enough to be a public health problem.

Victoria Uwadoka, Head of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Nestlé Nigeria, made the disclosure during the closing session of a three-week virtual training workshop held for journalists covering health, nutrition, l environment and business.

The program, which was organized by Nestlé Nigeria in partnership with Pan Atlantic University, had the theme: “Advancing Nutrition, Health and Environmental Awareness Through Media”.

Uwadoka said iron deficiency is a serious problem because iron helps form and oxygenate blood cells and hemoglobin; The main role of hemoglobin is to transport oxygen from the lungs to the tissues of the body to maintain basic vital functions.

According to her, blood is needed to carry nutrients throughout the body and a deficiency leads to poor absorption of nutrients from food, lack of energy, anemia and others.

As part of efforts to tackle iron deficiency in Nigeria and ensure a good life for all, Uwadoka said that Nestlé Nigeria has made plans to unveil a new campaign called ‘Live Strong with Iron‘ (LSWI) .

“The campaign aims to educate the public on the need to eat nutritious food.

“The launch takes place on April 7, 2021, in commemoration of this year’s World Food Day.

“We will highlight the fact that iron deficiency is a public health problem; all stakeholders must be involved to tackle this problem.

“So it’s important that we define the problem, bring attention to the problem, and then remove this low consciousness challenge.

“Because once we’ve done that, we’re able to call the solution, which is the second thing the campaign wants to do,” she said.

Uwadoka said available statistics in their possession showed that 68% of children under five were iron deficient and 37% stunted.

In addition, 58% of women of the representative age of 15 to 49 also had iron deficiency.

She said the campaign’s goal was to reach at least 50 percent of Nigerians with increased knowledge and awareness to reduce the incidence of iron deficiency.

“At Nestlé, we are committed to enabling people to lead healthier and happier lives by continuously improving our products, providing affordable food for all.

“Beyond providing tasty and nutritious products to consumers, we work alongside stakeholders to build strong communities and supply chains while improving livelihoods in communities directly linked to our business operations.

Our Creative Shared Value (CSV) focus areas in Nigeria include nutrition education, building thriving communities, empowering youth and preserving the environment,” she said.

Akua Kwakwa, Head of Nutrition, Health and Wellness for Nestlé Central and West Africa

Additionally, Akua Kwakwa, Head of Nutrition, Health and Wellness for Nestlé in Central and West Africa, highlighted the importance of iron and the impact of iron deficiency.

“Oxygen is our body’s fuel. It is responsible for transporting oxygen from our lungs to all of our cells in the body for use as fuel.

“So if we don’t have enough iron, we breathe well, but we don’t carry enough oxygen to our cells for them to perform their different functions to produce enzymes that will give us energy to the work of our brain.

“Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency both globally and locally and its impact on a child’s growth and development is devastating.

“It’s usually irreversible. The impact on our productivity, on our life expectancy, especially at the time of childbirth is devastating.

“It also leads to what we call hidden hunger, whereby we continue to function and see things as normal, but we frequently have headaches, weakness, fatigue and an inability to concentrate.

“And when it gets extreme, it can even cause hair loss and dull skin. So, the impact of iron deficiency cannot be underestimated, ” she said. (NOPE)

(NAN)

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