Taiwo Oluwadare, Ibadan
Oyo State has recorded the highest rate of malnutrition in Southwestern Nigeria, with malnourished children under five-years-old having a mortality rate of 73 deaths per 1000 live births, and an infant mortality rate of 59 per 1000 live births.
This was disclosed on Tuesday at the advocacy meeting by Civil Society-Scale Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) on scaling up nutrition in Oyo State.
Speaking at the one-day programme, the project coordinator, Ambrose Evhoesor, maintained that nutrition in the state has over the years been neglected, with 34.5 percent of children under five-years-old being stunted, 3.8 percent wasted and 19.9 percent underweight according to a 2018 NDHS research, which also finds that only 49.5 percent of children less than six-months-old are exclusively breastfed.
Evhoesor noted that adequate nutrition is essential to children’s growth and development. According to him, the first 1000 days of a child’s life (the period from conception to age 2) is especially important for optimal physical, mental and cognitive growth, health and development.
“Malnutrition is a condition that occurs when people consistently do not consume or absorb the right amounts and types of food and essential nutrients. One of the main indicators of childhood malnutrition is stunting, when children are too short for their age. Stunted children have poor cognitive and brain development which prevents them from reaching their full potentials in life in an increasingly competitive world,” the project coordinator said.
“Malnutrition is caused by several factors, including lack of food, improper feeding and caring practices, economic and political structures, low status and lack of education among women, and so on.
“Therefore, a multi-sectoral approach is required for a reduction and eventual eradication of the scourge. As a matter of urgency, there has to be multifaceted, multi-stakeholder and multilevel intervention at scale in order to produce substantial outcomes in the short to medium term,” Evhoesor said.
Speaking at the programme, Oyo State Chairman of CS-SUNN, Adio Olusegun, remarked that state government investments in nutrition have been very poor between 2015 and 2018. According to him, most times, despite budgetary allocation, little or no funds are released.
“It has been observed that even when government expands the size of the state budget, the budget for nutrition specific interventions do not follow the same trajectory. When aggregate expenditure is cut, the budgetary allocation for key nutrition specific interventions is slashed more in relative terms. The Oyo State Government is paying little attention to nutrition, which is alarming by all measurable indications,” Adio explained.
“Given that Oyo has a large population of malnourished women and children under-five in Nigeria, with an infant mortality rate of 59 per 1000 live birth and an under-five mortality rate of 73 deaths per 1,000 live births, according to 2016 MICS findings, it is essential that the Oyo State Government increases investment in nutrition specific and sensitive interventions,” Adio stated.