Henry Omunu, Abuja
The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon Yakubu Dogara, has declared that malnutrition kills 1, 150 children daily in Nigeria.
Dogara disclosed this on Tuesday at a two-day national conference on promoting maternal and child nutrition in Nigeria, organised by the House Committee on Healthcare Services in Abuja.
The speaker said a healthy nation was a wealthy nation, adding that no nation attains socio-economic greatness without the citizens being healthy, adding that nutrition is a key driver of development.
According to Dogara, malnutrition apart from being an underlying cause of death in the country, accounts for more than 50 per cent of mortality amongst children under the age of five years.
He said, “Every single day, Nigeria loses about 2,300 children under-five year of age and malnutrition accounts for more than half of these deaths.
“It is therefore obvious that we cannot seriously think about reducing under- five mortalities without addressing malnutrition.”
Dogara however, said that the death of children associated with nutrition problems were not the only issues the Nigerian government should worry about, adding that there were severe economic consequences.
“Nigeria, for instance, is said to lose over $1.5 billion in GDP to vitamin and mineral deficiencies with frightening projections of over 80,000 dying due to vitamin A deficiency.
“Similarly, in 2015, NNHS estimates revealed that seven per cent of women of reproductive age surveyed were malnourished and further disaggregation of the data showed that the North East and North West had the highest rates in the country.
“Micro-nutrient deficiency is high among women, especially during pregnancy which may be harmful to both the mother and the child,” he added.
The speaker also said that legislators at all levels must play a vital role in curbing the scourge of malnutrition across the country.
Dogara stressed that parliamentarians must constantly look at laws that were obsolete for repeal and those needing amendments, insisting further that “there must be appropriation to ensure that there is fiscal backing to actualize the provisions of the statutes so made.
“We must be committed to the Burkina Faso 2017 Declaration. Engaging all the stakeholders in this sector as well as our constituents in proper nutritional advocacy in our children especially the exclusive breastfeeding of babies for six months and promoting the delivery of effective and appropriate nutrition interventions.
“It is not enough to make laws and policies, but the other two of the three cardinal duties of the parliament must be employed- representation and oversight functions.
“Legislators must carry out their oversight responsibilities to ensure that beyond the legislation including appropriation, the laws are executed so that citizens are appropriately impacted.”