Cadbury Nigeria’s health initiative benefits 5, 692 children, addresses food insecurity
Photo caption: L-R: Frederick Mordi, Corporate Communications and Government Affairs Manager, West Africa, Cadbury Nigeria Plc; Philomena Orji, Country Director, Helen Keller International (HKI) Nigeria; Mrs. Foluso Babasola, member, Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN); Dr. Bartholomew Brai, President, NSN; and Faith Ishaya, an official of HKI, at the 49th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of NSN in Abuja, recently.

Cadbury Nigeria Plc has announced that 5,692 children out of a target population of 6,000 pupils in nine public primary schools within its host communities in Lagos, have benefited from its nutrition and healthy lifestyle initiative, which is being funded by Mondelēz International, its parent company.

In a statement, the Company’s Corporate Communications and Government Affairs Manager for West Africa, Frederick Mordi, said Mondelēz International was championing the programme as part of its efforts to address high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in the country. Noting that about 37% of Nigerian children reportedly suffer from chronic malnutrition resulting in cognitive and physical deficits, the statement further said under-nutrition was a major health problem among children, particularly in rural dwellings, while overweight and obesity are emerging health challenges in the urban areas.

“Considering the prevailing nutrition situation among Nigerian children, there is clearly a need to articulate and implement nutrition education programmes to correct malnutrition among school children in the country.

“Since January 2018, with funding from Mondelez International—the majority owners of Cadbury Nigeria—Helen Keller International (HKI) has been implementing a three-year strategic nutrition programme across nine public primary schools within our host communities in Lagos. The programme has three objectives: to improve children’s knowledge of good nutrition; to improve their nutrition choices and practices; and to improve their physical activity levels,” Mordi said.

According to the statement, Cadbury Nigeria has so far trained 707 parents and teachers to provide nutrition education; revamped school gardens with Vitamin A-enriched maize, pumpkin leaves, orange-fleshed sweet potatoes and cucumbers in the nine schools; and engaged 450 children in school health and young farmers’ clubs.

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The statement added that 71 percent of pupils have improved knowledge of nutrition and dietary diversity; 60 percent of children report being physically active for 30 minutes or longer each day; while 100 percent of parents interviewed report that their children now demand diverse diets containing ‘move, grow and shine’ foods.

Meanwhile, Mondelēz International, through its Nigerian subsidiary, Cadbury, created more awareness on the programme at a gathering of critical stakeholders and experts in nutrition, at the 49th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nutrition Society of Nigeria (NSN), which was held in Abuja, recently. The conference had the theme: ‘Promotion of Nutrition for Sustainable Development: Current Trends and Innovations.’

Mordi, who represented the Company at the event, said the objectives of the programme spoke to one of the sub-themes of the conference, which is on ‘Scaling up Behavioural Change Communication for Desirable Nutrition Outcomes.’

Helen Keller International (HKI) expatiated on the initiative in one of the plenary sessions at the conference, which enabled participants to learn more about Mondelēz’s signature corporate social responsibility (CSR) project in Nigeria. An Abstract entitled: ‘Private Sector Collaboration to Improve Nutrition and Lifestyles of School Children in Lagos,’ prepared by Mondelēz/Cadbury Nigeria and HKI, was published in the Conference Proceedings.

Earlier in his remarks at the opening ceremony, President, NSN, Dr. Bartholomew Brai, thanked sponsors, including Cadbury Bournvita, for their support over the years, noting that it has helped in deepening nutrition education in Nigeria.

The Emir of Kano, Muhammad Sanusi, who is also Chairman, Board of Trustees, NSN, was Special Guest of Honour at the event. He charged the government to pay more attention to nutrition as poor nutrition is one of the causes of ill health, particularly among children, in the country.