Nutrition experts have compiled data to show the nutritional status of Nigerian children is “getting worse” over time, with more children increasingly stunted, wasted or underweight in the last three years.
The Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey of 2017 shows nearly 44 in 100 children stunted (or too short for their age) in 2017, up from 33 in 2015.
Prevalence beyond 40 in 100 is classified as “critical” by the World Health Organisation.
The survey also shows the proportion of children wasted (or too thin for their age0 rose from 7 in 100 in 2015 to 11 in 11 in 100 in 2017, a prevalence categorized as “serious”.
The proportion of children underweight also rose from 19 out of every 100 in 2015 to 32 in 100 by 2017, classified as “critical.”
The compilation was released at an inception meeting for a project, Partnership for Improving Nigeria Nutrition Systems (PINNS) by the Civil Society for Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN).
“These negative results indicate an alarming rising trend in Nigeria’s malnutrition burden, which will continue to further impede the nation’s economic development, if not checked, as globally, stunting is currently an indicator for measuring a country’s development,” said Yinka Lawal, secretary-general of CS-SUNN.
The negative indices point to challenges facing the nutrition sector—ranging from inadequate coordination and funding to low uptake of anti-malnutrition measures and low visibility for nutrition issues.
Lawal said PINNS—a three-year project funded by Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation—aims to strengthen nutrition system to be more result-driven, effective, serviceable, efficient and transparent.
PINNS will focus on six states—FCT, Lagos, Niger, Nasarawa, Kaduna and Kano—which typify the worsening nutritional status of children across Nigeria.
Read also: Homegrown alternatives to beat malnutrition
Beatrice Eluaka, executive secretary of CS-SUNN says existing plans of action to address malnutrition have never been fully implemented. The National Council on Nutrition is yet to sit since its inauguration.
Eluaka said government should recognize annual boosts in gross domestic production, as much 11%, that could come from investing in nutrition.
“Nutrition investments are a best buy in today’s financially strapped environment,” said Eluaka.
“Nutrition has a very high returns on investment and create lifetime benefits for the nation.”