…Nigeria ranks first in Africa for malnourished children, and second globally
UNICEF has called upon governments at various levels and stakeholders to boost their allocation of funds for nutrition, aiming to combat malnutrition in Nigerian children.
Ms. Nkeiru Enwelum, UNICEF’s Nutrition Officer, issued this appeal during a two-day media dialogue in Port Harcourt, addressing the topic of ‘Nutrition Financing in Nigeria’ on Wednesday.
Her presentation was titled “Nutrition Situation in Nigeria: An Overview of Malnutrition in Nigeria and Its Impact on Children”.
Enwelum revealed that Nigeria ranked first in Africa for data on malnourished children and second globally, as she shared statistics, stating that approximately one million people experienced acute food insecurity, with around 17.7 million people facing hunger in Nigeria.
She emphasised the need for increased funding to support awareness campaigns in remote areas and provide assistance to severely malnourished children across the country.
Nairametrics reports that she referred to the 2018 National Demographic and Health Survey, which highlights that approximately 12 million out of Nigeria’s 35 million under-five children were stunted due to malnutrition.
UNICEF Communication Specialist, Mr. Geoffrey Njoku also reiterated the purpose of the dialogue which is to identify funding gaps in national and state budgets to address child malnutrition comprehensively across the country.
Enwelum pointed out that one in three Nigerian children suffered from stunting and outlined various forms of malnutrition, including acute malnutrition, severe wasting, stunting, and obesity.
She explained that stunting is considered chronic malnutrition because it develops over an extended period further stressing that the consequences of stunting could lead to developmental delays and hinder cognitive development.
What she said
Enwulum emphasised saying, “The states with the highest number of people suffering from food insecurity in Nigeria are Kano and Lagos.
“Even though Kano, Borno, Katsina, and Lagos rank high in the food insecurity ladder, malnutrition is widespread in the country, affecting people living in other parts of the country.
“Some of the diseases or resultant body malfunctions arising from malnutrition are micronutrient deficiency, anemia, rickets, and vitamin A deficiency.”
To tackle this issue, Enwelum stressed the importance of implementing prevention measures, interventions, and strategies to combat malnutrition effectively.
She advocated for ensuring that children have access to nutritious food and essential supplements, such as vitamin A supplements emphasizing that preventing malnutrition is more cost-effective than treating it.
She also called for a coordinated, multi-sectoral approach by the government, involving all sectors and stakeholders, to deliver comprehensive nutrition interventions and prioritize children’s well-being.
She thereafter called for an assessment of progress in the health sector, noting that Nigeria was making significant strides in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, particularly in the area of exclusive breastfeeding, with a potential to meet the target by 2030.Follow us on social media