Benue Partners Bio-Organics to Fight Malnutrition with Enrich

By Adebayo Dawodu
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29th January, 2014: With the purchase of 10 million sachets of micro-nutrient powder (MNP) known as Enrich, Benue State Government has begun tackling the scourge of malnutrition by distributing the food fortifying MNP to 86, 000 children in the state.

According to the state government, the micro-nutrients food powder which is manufactured in Nigeria by Bio-Organics Nutrient Systems Limited, will reach thousands of children in Benue State between December last year to May 2014, thereby fortifying them against malnutrition and diseases associated with micro-nutrients deficiency.

Speaking at the launch of Enrich Micro-nutrient food powder in Benue State recently, the First Lady of the State, Mrs. Dooshima Suswam, said there was need to address the problem of malnutrition in Benue with the MNP because the lack of nutritious food, poor feeding practices and children not getting enough nutritious food lead to malnutrition – which is the underlying cause of about half of deaths recorded in children under age of five years and severe acute malnutrition affecting millions of Nigerian children.

She also expressed delight with the innovation strategy aimed at reducing infant mortality in the state saying, “Benue State Government has procured 10 million sachet of MNP for distribution to 86, 000 children between age of 6 months and 59 months during the Maternal Newborn and Child Health Weeks (MNCHWs) of December 2013 and May 2014. A sachet of MNP contains 15 micronutrients that are supposed to be added to the food of a child at the point of consumption.

“The overall strategy is to adopt a state-driven approach that is built upon existing routine and outreach health services delivery system with increased mobilisation of communities during the specified months of MNCHWs,” Arc Dooshima Yemisi Suswam stated.

Enrich micro-nutrient powder, a single-serve free-flowing blend of 15 vitamins and minerals, is targeted at meeting the daily recommended nutrient intake of children above 6 months of age. It does not change the taste, smell or colour of food and is easy to use.

Speaking at the launch of Enrich micronutrient food powder in Benue State, the Chief Executive Officer, Bio-Organics Nutrients Systems Limited, Dr. Kenny Acholonu noted that “most complementary and staple foods lack sufficient amounts of vitamins and minerals required for optimal growth and development of children, especially in the first 1000 days of life. But, with the use of Enrich as part of their food, these essential micronutrients will be supplied in sufficient quantities.

“We, therefore, want to use this opportunity to urge mothers to adopt MNP as part of their children's feeding routine and use them according to the instructions of the health workers. Doing this diligently, will enhance the health, growth and development of the children, which will favourably complement the efforts of the state and all the stakeholders involved,” he said.

Dr Acholonu also commended Benue State for being the first state in Nigeria to combat malnutrition in Nigeria with the indigenous micro-nutrient food supplement. He said, “We hereby congratulate the government of Benue State on this laudable initiative of being the first state in Nigeria to adopt MNP as a preventive health intervention for the children and mothers of this great state. Benue State has set a commendable platform for other states to emulate and we are very pleased to be associated with this achievement which is in line with the Millennium Development Goal and the 7 point agenda of His Excellency, President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.” He also thanked Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) for its invaluable support in the delivery of this project.

Benue State Commissioner of Health, Dr Orduen Abunku, said that the state government had to provide micro-nutrients powder for the fortification of food for children in the state because of they are prone to malnutrition. He also thanked Bio-Organics Limited and its partner, GAIN adding that the partnership will benefit children who are the future of the state.

It would be recalled that a delegation from Benue Sate Government paid an official visit to Bio-Organics Limited last year where the Commissioner of Health, Benue State, Dr. Ordeun Abunku, had made known the intention of the state to purchase the micronutrient food powder to combat malnutrition.

Bio-Organics Limited has strategically positioned itself to deliver Micro nutrient powders (MNPs) of the best global standards by acquiring new machineries with production capacity of over 2 million MNP sachets per month. This is as a testament of its intentions to deliver the best and most cost effective solutions to tackle the scourge of malnutrition in Nigeria and Africa as a whole.

Report by World Health Organisation (WHO) said about 140 -250 million children under five years of age are affected by Vitamin A deficiency globally, while the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) noted that malnutrition is the underlying cause of morbidity and mortality of a large proportion of children under 5 in Nigeria. It accounts for more than 50 per cent of deaths of children in this age bracket.

Adoption and distribution of the indigenously produced Enrichmicro-nutrients food powder by Benue state government will significantly reduce the level of malnutrition in the state.

Hon. Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Benue State, Dr. Orduen Abunku; Head of Corporate Affairs, Bio-Organics Nutrient Systems Ltd, Miss Grace Beke; Head of Technical, Bio-Organics Limited, Miss Ayo Tella, explaining the use of Enrich MNP to the people, and Nutrition Officer of Benue State, Mrs. Catherine Anger at the official launch of the product in Benue recently.

(L-R) Mrs. David Salifu, wife of Secretary to the Benue State Government, who represented the First Lady of Benue; Head of Corporate Affairs, Bio-Organics Nutrient Systems Limited, Miss Grace Beke and Hon. Commissioner of Health and Human Services, Benue State, Dr. Orduen Abunku before the cutting of ribbon by Mrs. Salifu at the launch of Enrich in Benue State recently.