Malnutrition: 88,000 Children at Risk of Death in North-east, Says UNICEF

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By Michael Olugbode, Maiduguri

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) yesterday lamented over what it called Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in the North-east, warning that 88,000 children with SAM are at risk of death in the region, as they remained untreated.

UNICEF also said that about a million children between the age of six and 59 months in the three states affected by insurgency – Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, are also acutely malnourished.

Speaking during the closing of a five-day Nutrition in Emergency Training in Maiduguri, the UNICEF Chief Field Officer in Borno state, Geoffrey Ijumba, said one in every five of 440,000 children with SAM is at risk of death if their malnutrition remained untreated.

He also lamented that 230,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women were also acutely malnourished in the troubled region.

Ijumba said: “Over 1.5 million people lack access to safe water in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states. This has caused thousands of vulnerable children in the insurgency affected states to become acutely malnourished.

“This is after repeated bouts of diarrhea, including the outbreaks of cholera that recently claimed 65 lives.”

The UNICEF Chief Field Officer said good nutrition was the bedrock of child survival, health and development for any nation.

He said that only a few things had a more far-reaching effect on a child’s wellbeing or a nation’s long-term strength than nutrition.

Ijumba urged the 32 participants to complement the state’s efforts and muster the resources at their disposal in favour of children.

He said well-nourished children grow better and are able to contribute to their communities.

“Well-nourished children are resilient in the face of diseases and disasters,” he said.

The UNICEF Chief Field Officer said the 940,000 acutely malnourished children should not be let down in the conflict affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, stating that the malnourished children, are dependent on good judgement, sound policies and quick action for them to survive and thrive.

He however pledged that the UN children’s agency will continue towards the provision of preventative and curative nutrition activities.

He said: “We are also integrating some of our services for quick gains in the fight against malnutrition.”