Fred Ezeh, Abuja
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has raised the alarm warning that child malnutrition is silently killing hundreds of under-age children in the northeastern states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
UNICEF agreed that although the challenge is also recorded across the country, its 2018 Nigeria Nutrition Health Survey (NNHS) revealed that the lives of over 2.6 million children, under the age of five, were threatened by malnourished in Nigeria, regretting that the North East region in particular accounts for over 900, 000 of the affected children.
The report also revealed that over 10 million Nigerian children are stunted. A breakdown of the figure indicated that 42.8 per cent of the children in North East apart from being stunted, risk death by malnutrition if urgent care is not received.
It also revealed that 29.7 per cent of children in the North Central, 20.8 per cent in South West, 20.4 per cent in the South-South and 17.2 per cent of children in the South East states are stunted.
UNICEF was convinced that malnutrition might be strongly responsible for the poor development of the affected children, resulting in a high number of out-of-school children and other poor health records in northern Nigeria.
It said the situation had assumed emergency dimension. It requires the urgent attention of the Nigerian government, and other local and international donor agencies to salvage the posterity of children in North East children.
Its nutrition expert, Dr Davis Bamidele Omotola, who made the revelation at a meeting with journalists in Yola, regretted that child malnutrition has been prevalent in the northern states in spite of efforts by stakeholders to change the narrative.
He admitted that although malnutrition before now was a big problem in North East, the Boko Haram insurgency had worsened it. And the result is a significant increase in figures of malnourished children.
He challenged state and local governments authorities, traditional and religious leaders to intensify the campaign to educate and sensitise women at the grassroots on the essence of quality nutrition for the quality of life.
UNICEF Nutrition Officer, Dr Martin Jackson, highlighted in his presentation, the steps that have been taken thus far by the body with the support of DFID to change the situation in the region.
He was impressed with different programmes being championed by UNICEF which have contributed significantly to the changes being experienced so far.