By Gift Olivia Samuel, The Sight News
YOLA-As malnutrition among children under age five worsens nationwide, with the highest concerns in northern states, improved nutrition through empowering and educating the people, has been said to be the key to improved national and human development.
According to the fifth Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS5), 2016 to 2017, Child wasting (children who are too thin for their age) increased from 24.2% to 31.5%, while child stunting (children who are too short for their age) increased from 34.8% to 43.6%.
In line with the fight to stop child malnutrition in Nigeria, the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of lnformation & Culture in collaboration with UNICEF held a two day media Dialogue on Management of Acute Malnutrition for Conflict -Affected Children in the Northeast, with the theme, “Investing in Child Malnutrition for the future”.
Speaking at the dialogue in Yola, Adamawa state on Friday,a Nutrition Consultant, Davis Omotola, stated that over 25 million under five(5) children are suffering from malnutrition while over 10 million are affected by stunted growth.
He noted that insurgency, lack of education, gender issues,poverty amongst others are the drivers of malnutrition in the region, saying that inadequate household food security is the underlying cause of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).
“Insurgency in the region may be seen as the major driver of malnutrition as it has over the years led to high food insecurity, negative coping strategies, increased spread of endemic diseases and destruction of access to quality water and optimal sanitation”, he remarked.
Earlier in his opening remarks, the Head, Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture Abuja, Mr. Olumide Osanyinpeju noted, that addressing nutrition is one of the ways through which Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) can be achieved, adding that investment in nutrition will help reduce the negative trend of malnutrition.
According to him, “We have to define the strategic objectives of improving food security at the national, community and household levels; To reduce malnutrition among infants and children, adolescents and women of reproductive age; To significantly reduce micronutrient deficiency disorders, especially among the vulnerable group and to increase the knowledge of nutrition among the populace and nutrition education into formal and informal trainings”.
He encouraged journalists, to use their programmes to raise awareness and understanding of the problem of malnutrition in Nigeria and resource allocation for food and nutrition security at all levels.
“It is necessary that awareness be created amongst Nigerian populace especially for mothers, both lactating and non-lactating mothers, to give within the first six (6) months of birth the breast milk which is enough for the infant, as nutrition is the key to national development.
“Attention should be given to the nutrition of women especially pregnant women to reduce severe and malnutrition. It is imperative to combat malnutrition, because it can cause death in young children, particularly those under five years of age”, he stated.
He further called for concerted effort to fight malnutrition out in totality to ensure the attainment of desired results.