Improving infant and young child feeding have been identified as some of the ways to fight malnutrition in children.
The Nutrition Officer, United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Ms Nkeiru Enwelum, made this known at a workshop on Media Dialogue on Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, as Child Rights, in Enugu, Enugu state.
Ms Enwelum, who noted that Poor nutrition in the 1,000 days from conception of a child to 2 years of age results in permanent damage, noted that malnutrition also causes miscarriages.
Quoting NPC and the National Demographic Health Survey, NDHS, Nigeria is ranked number one in Africa and second in the world in terms of malnourished children.
” 35 million children under five 5 of age: 14 million are stunted, 3 million wasted and 24 million anaemic.
The average annual rate of reduction for stunting is only 0.4 per cent points every year “.
As for Nigeria achieving SDG 2 – Zero Hunger, she says, Nigeria is off track.
According to her, ” 14.5 million people suffer from acute food insecurity, 25 million people are hungry”
Happing on the high rate of malnutrition in the country, Ms Enwelum explained that the rate of stunting among children under five in the north central is over 50 percent which is as a result of malnutrition.
” Burden of malnutrition in the Northwest and NorthEast is extremely high, 45 percent of all child deaths is from poor nutrition “.
Ms Enwelum who warned that it was cost effective to prevent than to treat malnutriton urged everyone to support in the fight against malnutrition for the development of the country.
A Lecturer of Mass Communication, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, Dr Chidi Ezinwa, said, Nigeria was ranked 160 on the 2020 world’s SDGs index, from 159th in 2019.
” The SDG index shows that many rights of children are yet to be fulfilled, hence, Nigeria is far from realizing the SDGs”.
Dr Ezinwa who mentioned the four baskets of a child’s right as : Survival rights Protection rights, Participation rights and Development rights, said, Child right acts (CRA) operates only in Abuja, there is the need for States to domesticate it.
UNICEF Communication Specialist, Dr Geoffrey Njoku, stressed that, leaving out child rights while implementing the SDGs, would make it difficult for Nigeria to achieve the United Nations 2030 target.
” We need to know the situation of child malnutrition in the country, It is also very important to know that malnutrition is not only a Northern problem.
There is a growing trend of malnutrition in the South. A lot of children in the South are malnourished “.
Dr Njoku explained that, malnutrition, especially wasting and stunting, is not only a health challenge but one that impacts the economy of the country, adding that, asides premature death, most children that are malnourished have cognitive development deficiencies, and are unable to compete with their peers educationally, and contribute meaningfully to the economy.
The workshop was out together by UNICEF and the Federal Ministry of Information