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Tragic! ’25m children suffer from malnutrition in Nigeria’

…$100m required to curb to tackle problem- Nutritionist Children in Northeast Nigeria are the most hit by the malnutrition crisis in Nigeria, Dr. Davis Bamidele Omotola, has said. According to the Nutrition Consultant about 25 million children under the age of 5 are currently affected by malnutrition in the country, adding that the high prevalence rate of malnutrition has remained precarious in North east Nigeria. Speaking during a presentation at the Media dialogue with Journalists and interface with OAPs on Child Malnutrition in the Northeast organised by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), and Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of information and Culture in Yola, Adamawa State, on Friday, Dr. Omotola said that monies wasted on needless programmes can be invested in malnutrition. Speaking on the topic “Child malnutrition and the emergency in northeast Nigeria,” Dr. Omotola also disclosed that Nigeria currently requires about $100 million to curb the menace of malnutrition in the country. According to him, every six children are reported to have chronic malnutrition or stunting in 3 northeast emergency states. “Child malnutrition is recorded very high mostly in northern states. One Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) case is reported in every 7 children in 9 north east emergency states. “Prevalence rate of acute malnutrition among children under the age of 6-13 has stood nationally at 7%. While Northwest has 50.4%of stunting malnutrition, Northeast has 42.8%, North-Central 29.8%, Southwest 20.8%, South-South 20.4 and South east 7.1%,” he said. While identifying malaria and diarrhea as the main killers of children under the age of 5, Dr. Omotola said that 30% of these deaths would have been prevented if adequate care was given to the children. He stressed that the first 1000 days in the life of every child is very crucial. “That is from the day the child was conceived to when he is 2 years”, he added. He further identified poverty, maternal nutrition, insurgency, high food insecurity, increasing spread of endemic diseases and low coverage of immunisation programmes as factors affecting malnutrition in the northern part of the country. While calling for collaborative efforts towards investing in child malnutrition for a better future, Dr. Omotola called on the Federal Government to do more in terms of releasing funding meant for addressing health related issues in the country. On his part, Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, said that while malnutrition constitutes a serious setback to the socio-economic development of a nation, sustainable growth in Nigeria cannot be achieved without prioritised efforts to scale-up and sustain investment for nutrition. Represented by Olumide Osanyinpe, Deputy Director/Head, Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of information and Culture, Mohammed lamented the large burden of malnutrition on the country. Osanyinpe called for collaborative efforts towards investing in child malnutrition for a better future. “Malnutrition is a large burden to a country, and tackling malnutrition entails empowering and educating people. Improved nutrition is key to improved national and human development and this can be done by educating the populace and creating a positive approach towards nutrition. “Addressing nutrition is one of the ways through which sustainable development goals can be achieved, therefore investment in nutrition will help reduce the negative trend of malnutrition which has been ensured by creating this dialogue,” he said. While calling for collaborative effort to stem the tide, Osanyinpe further commended the effort of UNICEF and DFID over the priceless contributions towards promoting the health of Nigeria mothers and children as well as ensuring that the goals of health strategies targeted are met through constant dialogues. Also, Dr. Martin Jackson, UNICEF nutrition officer, Bauchi while speaking on the topic, “DFID support for child malnutrition in the northeast,” said that the DFID has so far distributed vitamin A supplement in some local government areas in Borno and Yobe states. He advised fathers to be fully involved in the nutrition of their children, adding that exclusive breastfeeding improves the growth of a healthy child. Doosuur Iwambe -Abuja

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