Charity Nwakaudu, Abuja
The first lady of Nigeria, Aisha Buhari, has lamented the health condition of Nigerian children, saying the country has the second highest percentage of stunted children in the world with a national prevalence rate of 32 percent among children under five years.
She added that half a million of Nigerian children suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM), but only two out of ten affected are currently under treatment.
Aisha Buhari made the disclosure at the Zero Water campaign launch on the occasion of the 2019 World Breastfeeding Week held in Abuja on Tuesday.
She said the importance of breastfeeding cannot be over-emphasized as data has it that children who are exclusively breastfed are less likely to fall ill, thereby reducing the burden on the health system and cost of hospitalisation.
“Data shows that only 27 percent of our children are exclusively breastfed, research also shows that one of the Major challenges of exclusive breastfeeding in Nigeria is that children are given water before they are six months,” Mrs Buhari said.
She appreciated UNICEF and other stakeholders supporting the Nigerian government to push the country’s breastfeeding rate above 50 percent, which is the global target.
Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, Abudulaziz Mashi in his remarks stated that the most worrisome problem with regards to childhood nutrition in Nigeria is that children are given water and solid food before the age of six months.
He suggested that a way to correct it is for the Federal Government in collaboration with parties to develop its national Zero Water campaign to draw the attention of communities, households and caregivers to the importance of breastfeeding.