UNICEF: Nigeria Not Doing Enough to Tackle Child Malnutrition Challenges

•Lagos, Kano, Katsina, Borno leading in food insecurity

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Port Harcourt

The United Nations Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) has said its findings showed that federal and state government were not budgeting enough funds that would adequately address growing cases of malnutrition amongst children in Nigeria.

It said four states – Kano, Borno, Katsina and Lagos –  were presently ranked highest in the food insecurity ladder.

The UN agency said better funding was needed to help carry out sensitisation and advocacy campaigns in remote areas as well as provide for succor for children facing severe malnutruition in the country.

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

UNICEF Nutrition Officer, Nkeiru Enwelum, who delivered a paper on, “Nutrition situation in Nigeria, An Overview of malnutrition in Nigeria and its impact on children,” said that currently about 35 million in Nigeria were malnourished.

“About 35 million of under five children in Nigeria and out this we have 12 million of them malnourished. And we have about three million that wasted in Nigeria,” she said.

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

On hunger and food insecurity data, she said 17.7 million people were hungry in Nigeria.

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

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

Although Kano, Borno, Katsina and Lagos ranked high in the food insecurity ladder, she said malnutrition was widespread in the country, affecting people living in other parts of the country.

The UNICEF Officer listed forms of malnutrition as acute malnutrition, severe wasting, stunting and obesity

She added some of the diseases or resultant body malfunction arising from malnutrition were known as micro nutrient deficiency, anemia, rickett, vitamin A deficiency (xerophamia).

Enwelum, also gave an assessment of progress being made on interventions in the health sector, saying exclusive breastfeeding was perhaps the only aspect of the SDGs that Nigeria was making progress and may likely meet the target by 2030.

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