UNICEF, DFID tackle child malnutrition in Nigeria

Gloria Essien, Maiduguri

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The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF and the Department for International Development UK, are collaborating to end child malnutrition in Nigeria.

The collaboration is in different states of the federation.

To create awareness about Severe Acute Malnutrition in Nigeria, UNICEF has organised a Media Dialogue on Child Malnutrition, in Maiduguri, Borno state.

Speaking at the dialogue, UNICEF Nutrition Expert, Abigael Nyukuri, said that two point five million boys and girls under five years suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition annually in Nigeria.

She said that a malnourished child is eleven times likely to die than a well nourished child.

In her presentation on the Status of Child Nutrition in Borno, Nyukuri said, “There is still an emergency situation in the north east. Malnutrition affects child’s development and causes fifty per cent of deaths of children under five. It causes irreversible brain damage and compromised intellectual capacity”.

She went on to say that UNICEF is strengthening support and partnership with government and other partners.

She added that UNICEF is working closely with DFID and other Non Governmental Organisation to record more success.

Also speaking on nutrition challenge in Nigeria, UNICEF Nutrition Expert, Aminu Usman, said that DFID, has released over forty million pounds to address Malnutrition and its components.

He also said that Nigeria is  need of N4.4 billion to procure 229,636 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).

He urged governments at all levels and wealthy Nigerians you generate funds needed to bridge the funding gap in Nigeria.

Also speaking, UNICEF Communication Specialist, Dr. Geoffrey Njoku, clarified that poverty is not the only cause of Malnutrition in Nigeria.

He added that lack of knowledge of the right combination of foods for children can also lead to malnutrition.

The Nigerian Minister of Information and Communication, commended UNICEF for their contributions, unyielding support and partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria, and for the consistent effort being made to ensure that the wellbeing of Nigerian children are promoted.

let us note that Nigeria’s future depends on producing children who are well prepared to take their place in tomorrow’s society. However, most unfortunately, a large number of these children are at risk of deprivations of basic social amenities, of which nutrition is inclusive; and especially in the Northern rural and hard-to-reach communities. Majority of these children are also living in conflict, and communities under emergencies, and it has been difficult taking indeed all basic amenities to them. This, therefore, calls to mind the need for us to specifically address malnutrition in children because it directly impacts on their survival and development.

Distinguished participants, there is need for investing in child malnutrition for the future, raising awareness and understanding on the problem of malnutrition in Nigeria and resource allocation for food and nutrition security at all levels. It is imperative to combat Malnutrition, because it can cause death in young children, particularly those under five years of age. There should be concerted effort to fight malnutrition out in totality to ensure the attainment of desired results”. Lai Mohammed said.

The minister who was represented by Mr. Olumide Osanyipeju, noted that the Federal Government has come to the realization that lack of access to basic nutrition is an infringement on the rights of the child and that proper nutrition is essential for every Nigerian child.

“Hence, efforts have been made by the Government in provision of policies and structures to manage malnutrition in the country through various programmes to support nutrition vis-à-vis Exclusive Breastfeeding, Complementary Feeding from six months, even the Home Grown School Feeding programme, to mention but a few; all of which are aimed at eliminating poor feeding practice for children”. He added.

The two Day Media Dialogue on Child Malnutrition, brought together news managers from different media organisations across Nigeria.

The dialogue is organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with United Nations Emergency Funds (UNICEF), with support from Department for International Development (DFID).

Ime Njoku