08 November 2019
Malnutrition remains a major public health and development concern in Nigeria, 49 percent of children under five years of age are not growing well (they are either stunted, wasted and overweight) this is the second highest proportion after the democratic republic of Congo in the west and central Africa region.
This is partly, because 34 percent of children between six months and four years of age are fed food that is not rich and diversified enough to ensure optimal growth, as children begin transitioning to soft or solid foods around the Six month mark, too many are introduced to the wrong kind of diets.
According to the state of the world’s children 2019: children, food and nutrition report, as children grow older their exposure to unhealthy food become alarming, driven largely by inappropriate marketing and advertising the abundance of ultra processed foods in increasing access to fast food and highly sweetened beverages.
During a media dialogue on child malnutrition sponsored by DFID in maiduguri Borno State, Nigeria. which saw to an interaction with a thirty years old Amina seidu, and her 4years old son Ayuba Usman, who can’t neither walk nor eat alone, and could do just nothing without being aided. Not that the mother could not have raised the alarm over the abnormality, But she have thought otherwise, not knowing it was malnutrition.
” I noticed that Ayuba was underweight for his age, I was confused because I don’t know what was wrong with the child as he was not growing, especially when compared with other children that were his mates, she had said this in Hausa”.
” I had thought he was only troubled by a normal ailment that would be cured with time at he could not crawl nor walk still at four years old “.
Amina who narrated how Boko Haram had attacked her village, Baga Local Government Area in Borno State in 2015, killed her husband, abducted her five children and herself while pregnant with her last child, Ayuba, including other communities people.
” We we’re abducted from our village and taken to Boko Haram camp, from there we escape to Nigel where we were been fed just ones a day, there was no enough food to eat and I was one month pregnant.
” We moved from Niger to Nigeria ten days ago, when the health outreach was getting to us, it was then I was told it is malnutrition that had affected the boy’s growth”.
” My son has been receiving treatment for five days with the Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) and drugs in the IDP camp here in Nigeria, he is eating better now, there is alot of improvement, he has started to crawl gradually, unlike before that he could not do anything,” she added.
In a bid to support the reduction of malnutrition in all its forms, UNICEF with funding from DFID is implementing two multi -sectional projects which identified as the flexible integrated and timely project (FIT) as well as the working to improve nutrition in northern Nigeria (WINNIN) to promote positive nutrition outcome in north east Nigeria.
Speaking at a media dialogue in Maiduguri, UNICEF nutrition speacialist, Aminu Usman said at least 4.4 billion naira was needed to cater to the food needs of the children.
Aminu said the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition was projected to drop to 258,950 in the three north eastern states worst hit by Boko Haram insurgency but only 12% of funding has been secured.
He said while a total of N5billion is needed to necessitate the procurement of N258,950 cartons of ready to use therapeutic food (RUTF) for the treatment of severe acute malnutrition, only N600 million naira worth had been acquired.
“funding has been secured for 29,314 cartons of RUTF, there is a funding gap of 4.4 billion naira for the procurement of 229,636 cartons of RUTF,” he said.
He said among the factors worsening the nutrition condition in the north east was the inflow of internally displaced persons in the various camps.