​Malnutrition in Nigeria May Increase in 2017 – UNICEF

By Alex Uangbaoje, kaduna

In view of the current economic recession bedevilling Nigeria, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), on Tuesday ask Nigerians to be prepared and brace up for increase in the level of malnutrition amongst mother and children in 2017 if immediate steps are not taking to address the scourge.

Addressing a one-day town hall meeting on the consequences of malnutrition in Kaduna state, UNICEF nutrition specialist, Dr. Florence Oni said considering events such as IDPs, poverty and economic recession among other factors, there is likely to be increased cases of the malnutrition in Kaduna state and Nigeria 2017.

Dr. Oni explained that it is important to start creating awareness now so that people begin to conserve what they have and plan appropriately for their families so that they do not end up in deep household insecurity and famine, saying “this is the time food is supposed to be cheap but it is still very high. We should expect it from April, May, June, July, August and September next year.”

She noted that in a bid to address this challenge and take necessary steps to save infants and pregnant women from avoidable deaths, Kaduna state government has contributed N300 million counterpart funding to the N450 million contributed by UNICEF to buy kits that would address malnutrition in 2017.

“Malnutrition is real and it is with us, it is likely to increase next year. What we are expecting next year will be more than what we are witnessing now. Malnutrition can be very fatal across board and it can affect everybody infants, children even adults. We have a data that is alarming, we are raising alarm for people to prepare for tomorrow.

“The Governor has said he does not want anybody to die from malnutrition in Kaduna state so he has raised N300 million coupled with the N450 million to buy kits that would be used to address malnutrition in Kaduna state. We all would need to reinvent the wheel of our sectors to prevent more children dying of malnutrition next year.”

Kaduna state Commissioner for budget and planning, Mohammed Sani Abdullahi, who could not hold his tears, said malnutrition situation in the state is alarming and called for concerted effort in tackling the menace, adding that the town hall meeting is aimed at highlighting the significance of malnutrition to the maternal and child mortality in the state. 

“Malnutrition is claiming the lives of our women, children and people across the state. Without proper nutrition lives are at stake due to under nutrition and over nutrition. Unbalanced food can lead to over nutrition, unbalanced diet, inappropriate cooking method and poverty could cause malnutrition. 

“Kaduna as an agrarian state with vast land we cannot allow our citizens to die of malnutrition that was why we started the school feeding programme now called intervention to improve nutrition in the schools.

He said Wife of Kaduna state Governor, Hajiya Ummi el-Rufai has taken up the issue of malnutrition and would be launching the Emergency Action Plan Against Malnutrition to help the poor and people on the rural area fight against the scourge of malnutrition. He added that the state government is working with UNICEF and Federal Ministry of Health on the programme. 

Kaduna state Commissioner for Health and Human Services, Dr Dogo Manya said every living cell in the body need to be nourished to continue to live. “Malnutrition must be viewed and addressed with seriousness using all the resources that we have.”

The Executive Secretary, Kaduna state Primary Health Care Agency, Dr Hadiza Balarabe said the fight against malnutrition should start with the girl child to prevent the birth of malnourished children. She called for information, committed health workers and adequate funding to fully address the challenge.

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