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Expert identifies diarrhoea as cause of 25% stunting in Nigerian children

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• Says 45,000 children die annually from lack of hygiene globally

BANGA: Diarrhoea kills children more than AIDS

The Water and Sanitation (WASH) Specialist for the United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF), Maina Banga, yesterday June 11,  identified diarrhoea as the major cause of 25% stunting among Nigerian children.

Presenting a paper  in Enugu, Anambra State on ‘WASH situation in Nigeria: the health/nutrition/education nexus’, the UNICEF specialist said  diarrhoea remains the second major cause of death among children under 5 years old.

She decried the 45,000 deaths of children due to poor hygiene, globally, which she said is unacceptable.

Banga also lamented the 842,000 death of children worldwide,  as a result of several bout of diarrhoea that could have been prevented through proper sanitation.

“25% of stunting in children under 2 years old is due to 5 or more episodes of diarrhoea. Repeated bouts of diarrhoea causes under nutrition and in turn reduces a child’s resistance to subsequent infections. Diarrhoea causes deaths by depleting body fluids resulting in profound dehydration, she stressed.”

The UNICEF specialist disclosed that the WASH programme has greatly contributed to the reduction of maternal diseases and deaths. The project, she further said, has given dignity,  reduced neonatal and maternal deaths, while also reducing childhood diseases, death and under nutrition, especially among children between 2 -5 years.

“Diarrhoea kills 2,195 children everyday globally, more than AIDs, malaria and measles combined, it also account for 1 in 9 child death. It is estimated that 194 million school days would be gained for a child due to less diarrhoea disease,” she said.

Deputy Director, Child Rights Information and culture, Olumide Osanyinpeju, in his welcome address said Water, Sanitation and Hygiene is very important in the life of a child, as  emphasied in Goal 6 of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which stated that water and sanitation are important for the survival and development of all children, while simple Hygiene such as hand washing can save lives.

The WASH programme in Nigeria focused on six states namely Cross River, Yobe, Jigawa, Osun, Anambra and Kano and in 20 Local Government Areas.

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