A nutrition Manager with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), Elhaji Diop, says no fewer than 1.24 million under-five children in Katsina State are stunted due to malnutrition.
Diop, from the Kano Field Office of UNICEF, disclosed at a media dialogue on “Stronger with Breast milk Only (SWBO)” initiative in Katsina, yesterday.
The dialogue was part of commemoration of the theme of the 2022 World Breastfeeding Week – Step up for Breastfeeding-Educate and Support.
Diop said about 1.2 million under-five children were anaemic, while 82,492 were wasted, saying exclusive breastfeeding had improved from 6.7 per cent in 2016, to 21 per cent in 2022.
This he said, was according to the recently released 2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) report.
He explained that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) targeted exclusive breastfeeding to reach 50 per cent in the state by 2030.
Diop further appealed to journalists to continue to give them all the necessary support to achieve the goal before 2030.
According to Diop, the report also revealed that Nigeria ranked first in Africa and second in the world in terms of number of malnourished children.
He explained that the development was recorded due to the low exclusive breastfeeding from 0-6 months by the mothers, saying such was denying the children to grow well.
Isa Muhammed, assistant state nutrition officer, said the dialogue was to share the nutrition situation of children in the state with emphasis on sub-optimal Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices as fundamental factors responsible for the poor nutrition indices.
“It is also to share the concept of SWBO to media personnel as an initiative to ensure mothers get the support they need to give their babies the best start in life.
He said the dialogue was also to emphasise on promoting “Zero-water” for children 0-5 months as a major strategy to increase exclusive breastfeeding rate in the state.
“In the longer term, to stimulate the interest of participants enough, so they can develop interest in focusing on breastfeeding and nutrition in their stories,” he said.