FG, States Not Doing Enough to Tackle Child Malnutrition Challenges, Says UNICEF

FG, States Not Doing Enough to Tackle Child Malnutrition Challenges, Says UNICEF

* Lagos, Kano, Kastina, Borno leading in food insecurity 

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja 

The United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) has, based on its findings, accused the Federal and state governments  of not budgeting enough funds that will adequately address the growing cases of malnutruition amongst children in Nigeria.

It said that four states — Kano, Borno, Katsina and Lagos — were presently rank highest in the food insecurity ladder.

The UN agency said that better funding is needed to help carry out sensitization and advocacy campaigns in remote areas, as well as provide succour for children facing severe malnutruition in the country.

Speaking on Wednesday at the opening of a two-day workshop on ‘Media Dialogue on Nutrition Financing in Nigeria’, held in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, UNICEF Communication Specialist, Mr. Geoffrey Njoku, said that the dialogue was intended to identify funding gaps in national and budgets for addressing issues of child malnutruition and how to fill the gaps.

UNICEF Nutrition Officer, Nkeiru Enwelum, who delivered a paper on ‘Nutrition situation in Nigeria: An Overview of malnutruition in Nigeria and it’s impact on children’, said that currently, about 35 million children in Nigeria are mal-nurished.

“About 35 million of under five children in Nigeria and out this we have 12 million of them mal-nurished. And we have about 3 million that wasted in Nigeria. About 23.5 million children are anaemic, that is suffering (about 60 per cent of children in Nigeria) – from National Population Commission and demographic surveys,” she said. 

In terms of rating, Enwelum said Nigeria ranks number one in Africa on data on mal-nurished children and number two in the world.

On hunger and food insecurity data, she said that 17.7 million people are hungry in Nigeria (food availability or non availability).

Enwelum also said that about one million people suffer from acute food insecurity in Nigeria.

According to her, the states with the highest number of people suffering from food insecurity in Nigeria are Kano and Lagos.

Despite Kano, Borno, Katsina and Lagos ranking high in the food insecurity ladder, she said that malnutuituon is of wide spread in the country, affecting people living in other parts of the country.

The UNICEF officer listed the forms of malnutrition as acute malnutrition, severe wasting, stunting and obesity.

She added that some of the diseases or resultant body malfunction arising from malnutrition are known as micro nutrient deficiency, anemia, rickett and vitamin A deficiency (xerophamia).Enwelum also gave an assessment of the progress made on interventions in the health sector, saying that exclusive breastfeeding is pehaps the only aspect of the SDGs that Nigeria is making progress and may likely meet the target by 2030.

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