About $100 million is urgently required to address Severe Acute Malnutrition in North East Nigeria; as available data also revealed that 25 million children are suffering from Malnutrition in the country.
Experts who spoke at a UNICEF Media Dialogue with Journalists and interface with On-Air Personalities (OAPs) on Child Malnutrition in North East; holding in Yola said the issue of malnutrition in the North East must be urgently addressed to prevent more death of children in the coming years.
The dialogue was organised by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture.
A Nutrition Consultant to UNICEF, Dr Davis Bamidele Omotola, said the Children in Northeast Nigeria are the most hit by the malnutrition crisis in Nigeria.
According to the Nutrition Consultant, who is speaking on: “Child Malnutrition and the Emergency in North East Nigeria,” about 25million children under the age of five are currently affected by malnutrition in the country.
He also disclosed that Nigeria currently requires about $100million to curb the crisis of malnutrition in the country
The high prevalence rate of malnutrition, he said, has remained precarious in North East Nigeria; adding therefore that the monies being wasted on needless programs can be invested in malnutrition.
He said: “Child malnutrition record is very high mostly in the Northern states. One Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) cases are reported in every 7 children in nine northern states.
“prevalence rate of acute malnutrition among children under the age of 6-13 has stood nationally at 7%. While North West has 50.4%of stunting malnutrition, North East has 42.8%, North-Central 29.8%, Southwest 20.8%, South-South 20.4 and Southeast 7.1%.”
He identified Malaria and Diarrhea as the main killers of children under the age of 5, stressing that 30% of these deaths would have been prevented if adequate care was given to the children.
According to the expert, the first 1000days in the life of every child is very crucial; from the day the child was conceived to when he is 2years.
Besides, Omotola identified poverty, maternal nutrition, insurgency, high food insecurity, increasing the spread of endemic diseases and low coverage of immunisation programs as factors affecting malnutrition in the northern part of the country.
Stressing the need for huge investment, he called for effective collaboration towards investing in child malnutrition for a better future and the country at large.
However, he appealed to the Federal Government to improve on funding and release of monies meant for addressing health-related issues in the country.
On his part, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed said that while malnutrition constitutes a serious setback to the socio-economic development of a nation, sustainable growth in Nigeria cannot be achieved without prioritised efforts to scale-up and sustain investment for nutrition.
The Minister, who was represented by the Deputy Director/ Head Child Rights Information Bureau, in the ministry, Mr Olumide Osanyinpe, lamented the large burden of malnutrition on the country.
Osanyinpe also called for collaborative efforts toward investing in child malnutrition for a better future.
“Malnutrition is a large burden to a country, and tackling malnutrition entails empowering and educating people. Improved nutrition is key to improved national and human development and this can be done by educating the populace and creating a positive approach towards nutrition.
“Addressing nutrition is one of the ways through which sustainable development goals can be achieved, therefore investment in nutrition will help reduce the negative trend of malnutrition which has been ensured by creating this dialogue,” he said.
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