Nigeria Rated First In Africa With 17 Million Undernourished Children -UNICEF

By Abimbola kintum

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Nutrition Specialist, Mrs. Ngozi Onuora, has said Nigeria had been rated first in Africa and second in the global malnutrition burden with 17 million undernourished children which poses a huge threat to the general well being of the country.

She made the disclosure during a five day Community Practice workshop on Building Capacity to Mainstream Nutrition into the Investment Agenda, which was held in Makurdi, Benue State recently.

While speaking on the objective of the workshop and the ‘Effective Management of First 1,000 days Window of Opportunity for Every Child – Strategic Preventive Option’, Mrs Onuora noted that the issue of malnutrition is multi-layered, emphasising that the nutrition of the mother and child in the first 1,000 days of the baby’s life starting from the first nine months in the womb and two years after birth remains critical to the well being of the mother and child.

According to her, “67 percent of women in Nigeria are anaemic. For the purpose of child bearing, you will need to build up her blood level, otherwise she will die. She cannot survive that pregnancy, we must boost their blood.”

She observed that the investments in the nutrition of infants, children and mothers would boost growth ,stressing that nutrition from the womb, infancy and early child was essential for child survival, growth, quality physical development and productivity.

“From the womb, infancy and early childhood, first 1,000 days are the critical window for growth and development,” she said.

Also, Prof. Kola Anigo, the National Coordinator Academic and Research Network, in his presentation, ‘Conceptual Framework on Maternal and Child Nutrition, Expanded’ Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria, explained that “nutrition is a critical part of human development.”

While listing some of the impact of malnutrition Prof. Anigo noted that “malnutrition creates significant threat to human existence. With consequences such wastage, stunted growth, poor and impaired brain development in children as well as premature deaths” among others.

Also, the Advocacy, Campaign and Policy Manager, Save the Child, International and Chairman Steering Committee, Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, (CSSUNN), Innocent Ifedilichukwu, who spoke on ‘Tracking Investments in Maternal, Infant and Young Child Nutrition in Nigeria’ warned that Nigeria might not make desired progress until the knotty issue of malnutrition is adequately tackled headlong.

Declaring the workshop open earlier, the Enugu State Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Dr. David Ugwunta, who commended UNICEF for taking the lead in the advocacy for maternal and child health, urged all participants to key into the objectives of the workshop in order to cascade same in their respective states.

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