The federal government has been urged to invest in curbing issues of malnutrition across the country as well as allocating more resources for food and nutrition security at all levels.
A nutrition consultant, Dr. Davis Omotola, stated this on Wednesday while presenting a paper titled: “Child Malnutrition and the emergency in Northeast” at the opening ceremony of a media dialogue, organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Yola, Adamawa state.
He said the government “should understand that malnutrition in Nigeria is already an emergency but higher in the Northeast because insurgency is the main driver.”
He noted that Nigeria has 25 million children under the age of 5 that are wasted (too thin for their age) while 10 million are stunted (too short for their age).
Dr. Omotola added that Nigerians must understand that wasting is similar to death sentence for a child and stunting is similar to life sentence so that they can find a way of investing in ways to combat it and not leave the fight to the government alone.
“If we don’t get it right before the children get to the age of 5 years, we will continue to have lots of problems in the area of nutrition,” he said.
He said other factors responsible for malnutrition include gender issues, poverty, state of maternal nutrition, and not practising exclusive breastfeeding, among others.
Addressing participants at the event, the minister of Information and Culture (FMIC), Lai Mohammed, who was represented by head, Child Rights Information Bureau at the FMIC, Olumide Osanyinpeju, said there is the need to raise awareness and understanding on the problem of malnutrition in the country.
He said it is imperative to combat malnutrition because it is the major cause of death in young children, particularly those under 5 years of age.
“Malnutrition is a large burden to a country, and tackling it entails empowering and educating people. Improved nutrition is key to improved national and human development team and this can be done by educating the populace and creating a positive approach towards nutrition,” the minister said.
He added that addressing nutrition is one of the ways through which sustainable development goals can be achieved, noting that investment in nutrition will help reduce the negative trend of malnutrition.
“We must design the strategic objectives of improving food security at the national, community and household levels. To reduce malnutrition among infants and children, adolescents and women of reproductive age; to significantly reduce micronutrients deficiency disorders, especially among the vulnerable group and to increase knowledge of nutrition among the populace and nutrition education into formal and informal trainings,” he stated.