• Saturday, June 22, 2024
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About 30% of children suffer chronic malnutrition in Akwa Ibom

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About 30 percent of children under five suffer from chronic malnutrition in Akwa Ibom State, while more than 5 percent of them are hit by severe acute malnutrition, a condition that could result in stunting, wasting and underweight.

According to United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Nigeria with over 13 million children suffering from severe malnutrition has the highest number of stunted children in Africa.

Similarly, in the South-South region of the country, 18.3 percent of the children are stunted, 11.1 percent are wasting while 12.8 percent are underweight.

Severe acute malnutrition is an indication that the child is so undernourished that the child is at risk of dying, according to experts.

Zakaria Fusheini, UNICEF nutrition advocacy specialist who said this, described nutrition as a powerful driver for the socio-economic development of a nation, yet it was one the sectors that had received little attention by African countries. “To improve welfare and economic growth in developing countries, investment in reducing under nutrition is ranked ahead of investments in schooling, health and family planning. For every dollar invested in reducing chronic under nutrition among children in Africa, there is a return of investment of $16,” Fusheini said.

Fusheini, who spoke during a workshop for journalists, said investment within the first 1000 days of a child’s birth provided greatest opportunity and healthy start of life, adding that malnutrition remained a problem of public health importance in Nigeria.

In his presentation, Chris Isokpunwu, head of nutrition, Federal Ministry of Health, said several multi-sectoral initiatives had been launched to address the challenge of the Nigerian child, “all of which are aimed at expanding nutrition interventions across the country to reach more of those in need.”H

He said leaders should be made to be aware that reduction in malnutrition could lead to direct improvements in education and GDP, adding that well-nourished children grow into a healthier, more productive labour force as adults and that could mean a boost in GDP growth by as much as 11 percent annually for the country.