The Federal Government, yesterday, disclosed that Nigeria has the second highest burden of malnourished children in the world and ranks first on the same index in Africa.
Director, Family Health, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Salma Anas, stated this at a media parley organised by the International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) in conjunction with the European Union and the British Council in Abuja.
Anas said the challenge of malnutrition presents as either very low weight in relation to height of children or as over weight (obese) in relation to height and age.
She lamented that the challenge of malnutrition has been made worse following the over a decade long insurgency in parts of the country and its impact on food security.
Executive Director, ISMPH, Moji Makanjuola said statistics made available by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) indicate that an estimated two million Nigerian children suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) with a national prevalence rate of 32 per cent of children under five years of age.
However, only two out of every 10 children affected are currently reached with treatment.
Manajuola said malnutrition is a direct cause of 45 per cent of all deaths of children under the age of five in Nigeria, just as seven per cent of women of child bearing age also suffer from acute malnutrition.
“ISMPH has undertaken to work specifically to combat this epidemic in Northern Nigeria. Under the project funded by the Children Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), ISMPH utilised the media to emphasise the budgetary inadequacies in nutrition and to demand accountability from duty bearers,” she said.