MALNUTRITION, a persistent problem in Nigeria, continues to take death toll on children in the country. In Kaduna State, 132 children died of acute malnutrition out of 12,858 cases of children hospitalized between January and October 2018; and 10,604 out of the 12,858 have been cured, while 187 others who are yet to recover are undergoing treatment.
Underlying causes of under-nutrition in Nigeria are poverty, inadequate food production, uneven distribution of food, inadequate food intake, poor food preservation techniques, improper preparation of foods, ignorance, food restrictions taboos and poor sanitation, according experts.
Surveys on assessment of nutrition in Nigeria disclose low intakes of protein, energy, iron, calcium, zinc, thiamine, and riboflavin in almost all age groups and both sexes. Diseases associated with malnutrition, according to experts, are diarrhea, measles, anemia and gastroenteritis, and are said to be the causes of most deaths in infants and young children.
None of these causes of malnutrition in Nigeria could not have been adequately addressed with encouraging results by Nigerian governments, if Economic Reforms were pro-active, well focused and channeled with desire for good governance and leadership that drive the needs of citizens.
Hajiya Hauwa Usman, Kaduna State Nutrition Officer, gave the malnutrition figure in the State, Thursday, at a meeting organized by Save the Children International, SCI, to support Kaduna State Chapter of the Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, to develop two-year Nutrition Advocacy Strategy.
Usman said: “Currently, 11.7 per cent of children under-five years are wasted – suffering from severe acute malnutrition, while 47 per cent are stunted — too short for their age”. She ascribed the high rate of malnutrition in Kaduna State to poor maternal, infant and young child feeding practices which has remained unsatisfactory.
Her words: “The Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey, 2017, revealed that the rate of timely breastfeeding initiation is 28.9 per cent, while only 19,7 per cent under-five children were exclusively breastfed. Similarly, only 10 children aged six to 23 months were adequately and appropriately fed”.
Silas Ideva, CS-SUNN Coordinator in Kaduna State, on his part, said malnutrition among children under-five years in the State are high burden. Despite many years of implementing nutrition activities by the state government and partners, results have, so far, not been encouraging.
“To address the issue of malnutrition, there is the need for nutrition budget line in all relevant ministry, departments and agencies. There is also the need to scale up high impact cost effective nutrition interventions at strategic locations and expedite action on finalizing Kaduna State policy on Food and Nutrition. The state government also need to have a holistic budget for nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions”, he said.
Yusuf Auta, Deputy Director, Development Aid Coordination, in Kaduna State Planning and Budget Commission said N200 million, out of N300 million allocated for nutrition intervention in the State’s 2018 budget has been cashed backed. The commission is awaiting cash backing of the remaining N100 million for procurement of “Ready To Use Therapeutic Food”.
Auta called on civil society organizations in Kaduna State to support government in addressing the scourge of malnutrition, to especially, give under-five children the chance to celebrate fifth year birthday and beyond.
Malam Isa Ibrahim, SCI Nutrition Advocacy Adviser, explained that the objective of the meeting was to support CS-SUNN to develop nutrition advocacy strategy for better outcome. It was also to identify barriers and challenges of nutrition intervention in Kaduna state.
Ibrahim said: “We equally want to identify and review target stakeholders, including champions at State level for nutrition intervention and effective implementation of the strategy. What we want to at the end of the day is to develop advocacy messages for the implementation of the advocacy strategy”.