1,200 children die daily from malnutrition in Nigeria.
A media workshop on malnutrition organised by the United Nations Children Fund, (UNICEF), kicked off this morning at Channel View hotel, Calabar amidst startling revelation that no fewer than 1,200 children die every day in Nigeria from malnutrition. Not only that, out of those that survive, 1 in 3 will be underweight and 1 in 5 stunted.
In a presentation on the nutrition status of Nigerian children, the head nutritionist from the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Chris. Isokpunwu, said this figure is arrived at from the recent data from National Health Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) which showed that over 2,300 under five children die daily in Nigeria and half of this is due to malnutrition. He disclosed that in the North West, more than half of the children (54.8%) are stunted and this is an indication of long term malnutrition.
“Malnutrition in Nigeria is not exactly as a result of lack of food but what we eat. Even the rich are affected because they do not know the right food to give their children. Many do not know that exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months will prevent illnesses”, he said.
Dr. Isokpunwu, said a way out of the problem would be to give children micronutrient supplements and deworming as well as adopting behavioural changes such as cleanliness, immunizations and complementary feeding.
In his presentation, child nutrition specialist from UNICEF, Arjan de Wagt, revealed that malnutrition is associated with 55 per cent of child mortality in Nigeria. And this, he said, is the reason why childhood killer diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea, measles among others, thrive more in the country despite medical interventions.
According to him, one in every five child is stunted in Nigeria while two out of every three children are not being fed properly and these situation has contributed to high infant and child mortality. Aside child mortality, he said the impact of malnutrition is felt all over the nation with increased low weight babies, low weight and height in adolescent, early pregnancy, child growth failure, low intelligence and chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes.