Nigeria’s battle against deficiencies in childhood nutrition got a boost Wednesday 14 October with the introduction of a micronutrient fortification product for quick and easy utilisation by families.
Micronutrient Laboratories Limited unveiled its Cognito Micronutrient Powder as a response to the challenge of high infant mortality from poor feeding at the 44th Annual Conference of the Nigerian Institute of Food Science and Technology in Lagos. It was one of the highlights of the annual conference of the nation’s food scientists and technologists.
UNICEF states that Nigeria has the second-highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 32 per cent of children under five. An estimated 2 million children in Nigeria suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM), but the country reaches only two out of every ten children affected with treatment.
Besides, UNICEF, WHO and the World Bank Group identified three categories of malnutrition. They are stunting, wasting and overweight.
The Joint Child Malnutrition Estimates, 2020 by the organisations reports that 144 million children under-5 are stunted (too short for their age), 47 million are wasted (too thin for their height) and 38 million children under 5 are overweight.
The Chief Executive of Flour Mills of Nigeria plc Dr Paul Gbededo unveiled the micronutrient powder. Gbededo, who was the Keynote Speaker at the conference, commended Micronutrient Laboratories Limited and its Chief Innovation Officer for remaining focused on leading indigenous contribution to science and technology.
Dr Kenny Acholonu is the Chief Innovation Officer, Micronutrient Laboratories and introduced the product. Dr Acholonu averred that Cognito MNP “is a readily available micronutrient powder for optimising the nutritive value of local foods for all malnourished children including those in challenging settings such as conflict areas, IDPs, and poverty-chains.”
Acholonu said the micronutrient formulation is a direct response to the challenge thrown by international agencies bothered with the high incidence of infant mortality traceable to food deficiencies and the lack of local capacity.
“Rotary International and UNICEF threw the challenge of local production of micronutrient powder in Nigeria in 2009. Before and since then, Nigeria imports MNP. They approached me based on a recommendation by BASF, the world leader in chemicals. My team and I took up the challenge. We produced Micronutrient powder to global standards.”
Dr Acholonu asserted, “Cognito will assist Nigeria to tackle the problem of micronutrient deficiency. It will be useful in tackling the challenge of food lacking in vital nutrients that many of our deprived citizens eat and serve their children.”
A lifetime achievement awardee of NIFST, Dr Acholonu holds three American patents and one in Nigeria. He was founder and CEO of Biorganics Nutrient Systems Limited.
The renowned scientist said Micronutrient Laboratories Limited (https://micronutrientlabs.com.ng/) envisions contributions to national development through science and innovation. He noted that Cognito MNP has essential micronutrients containing ten essential vitamins and five minerals for high cognitive development and performance, physical growth, and optimum health of children.
Rachael Amadasun, Technical Manager, said Micronutrient Laboratories formulated their product in line with the Federal Government’s prescription. She noted that “Cognito® MNP is a single-serve blend of 15 essential micronutrients (10 vitamins and 5 minerals). It is a 1gram powder used to improve the nutritional content of most staple foods. Users add Cognito to “semi-solid foods and porridges after cooking and at a temperature conducive to feed the child. A sachet of Cognito® MNP is sufficient to provide 100% RNI for children within the age range (6months to 59 months).”
Home fortification of food is one of the intervention strategies the Federal Government adopted to prevent micronutrient deficiencies in children under-5 years.
NAFDAC has approved Cognito MNP while the company says it has done initial presentations to the Federal Ministry of Health and some state governments.