The African Leaders for Nutrition (ALN) have presented a position paper calling on African Heads of State and Governments to include financing for nutrition in national COVID-19 response and recovery plans.
They made the call via a statement from African Development Bank (AfDB) on Tuesday in Abuja.
The position paper on “Embedding Nutrition within the COVID-19 Response and Recovery” was sent to African Union (AU) member states by King Letsie III of the Kingdom of Lesotho, an ALN “Nutrition Champion”.
The position paper urged the countries to maintain and increase the level of funding allocated to nutrition so as to safeguard previous efforts to address malnutrition.
It also called on the countries to ensure that there were no gaps within their multi-year nutrition programmes in the immediate, medium-term and post-COVID-19 recovery responses.
Former Ghanaian President John Kufuor, who is also an ALN founding member and Nutrition Champion said: “As COVID-19 cases rise in Africa, the impact on nutrition and food systems cannot be denied.
“The threat of this new virus requires us to adopt new ways of looking at and overcoming malnutrition,” he added.
The paper also emphasised the role of high-level political leadership, particularly Heads of State and Ministers of Finance, as nutrition champions.
“The aim of the champions is to ensure that actions and economic stimulus packages developed to combat the pandemic are made available and affordable to all,’’ it said.
The AfDB noted that the pandemic had created major global health and economic shocks, with unprecedented impacts on people’s health, nutrition and livelihoods.
The bank emphasised that in efforts to mitigate malnutrition in Africa, tangible emphasis should be placed on nutrition in COVID-19 responses on the continent.
Besides, the AfDB noted that the pandemic was a chance for African leaders to reshape and spearhead high-level sensitisation, advocacy and resource mobilisation efforts toward securing increased investments in nutrition.
The position paper forms part of the AfDB’s COVID-19 Response Facility aimed at articulating financial and technical measures to tackle the pandemic.
The facility aims to cushion African economies and livelihoods against the health, social and economic impacts of the pandemic.
The ALN Secretariat is hosted by the AfDB to foster opportunities for high-level engagement to drive policy changes in Africa.