UNICEF raises fresh concern over malnutrition in South West
The united Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has raised fresh concerns over the rising cases of malnutrition in the South West geo-political zone of the country, attributing it to poor Exclusive Breast Feeding (EBF).
According to UNICEF Communications Specialist, Mr. Geoffrey Njoku, the belief that malnutrition is most pronounced in the northern part of the country was nothing but misleading. He stated this yesterday in Ibadan, Oyo State at the opening of a two-day media dialogue on child malnutrition titled: “Good nutrition, invest more.”
Njoku, quoting a 2013 survey, declared that the South West has 22 per cent stunted children under the age of five, saying malnutrition is a national problem, which requires urgent intervention.The UNICEF official who narrated his Owerri hometown experience in Imo State revealed that 13 per cent of children born to rich families also suffer malnutrition.
The Communications Officer of UNICEF, Mrs. Blessing Ejiofor, said the Media Coalition Against Malnutrition (MECHAM) is driven to create opportunities for media advocacy on child nutrition through sensitisation.
“It also provides media partners with the knowledge and materials to support advocacy for child nutrition and acquaint the media the situation in Nigeria with particular reference to child malnutrition,” she said.
A resource person from the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH), Mrs. Ogunbunmi Omotayo noted that, “Nigeria has the highest number of stunted children under age five in sub-Saharan Africa and second highest in the world with 37 percent of all children stunted, 18 percent wasting and 29 per cent underweight.”
She explained further that infant mortality rate is 69/100 live births and children under five years have 128/1,000 live births, while only 17 per cent are exclusively breast-fed.
Nutrition Specialist, Mrs. Ada Ezeogu lamented that the Nigeria Nutrition Indices (2013) disclosed that only 17 per cent of Nigerians engage in exclusive breast feeding, which is far below the 50 per cent international standard.
Ezeogu affirmed that malnutrition is not all about food but inadequate care, knowledge, food insecurity, unsanitary environment and other factors, which are highly manifest in the six states of the South West.