News The African Way

Save 11 Million Stunted Children In Nigeria, CS-SUNN Pleads

By Iliya Kure

imageKaduna (Nigeria) — Programme Manager of Civil Society Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, Sunday Okonkwo has asked governments at all levels in Nigeria to save malnourished children, saying the country is top among nations with highest burden of malnutrition in the world, with about 11 million of its children stunted.

Okwonko made the appeal while speaking with journalists in Kaduna at a programme to mark 2016 Day of the African Child.

“Nigeria has one of the highest burdens of Malnutrition globally and ranks second globally with about Eleven Million stunted Children,” he said.

Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2013, shows that at the national level, the prevalence of stunting is 37%, underweight 29% and wasting 18% in children below the age of five years.

In Kaduna State, stunting is at 56.6%, underweight 57.6% and wasting 42% in children under five years.

“This means Kaduna State with 56.6% stunting has the third highest number of stunted children under-5 years of age in Nigeria, after Kebbi 61% and Katsina and Jigawa with 59% respectively. He said

Recently, an organisation, Doctors Without Borders (MSF) visited the Bama IDP camp in Borno State, northeast Nigeria, where it found 24,000 cases of malnutrition.

“During those few hours, the MSF medical team discovered a health crisis, referring 16 severely malnourished children at immediate risk of death to the MSF in-patient therapeutic feeding center in Maiduguri, capital of Borno State. A rapid nutritional screening of more than 800 children found that 19 percent were suffering from severe acute malnutrition—the deadliest form of malnutrition.” Says MSF statement

The situation in Bama had led to malnutrition related death of several children in the camp.

“During its assessment, the MSF team counted 1,233 cemetery graves located near the camp which had been dug in the past year. Many of those graves—480—were of children.” Says the statement

“We were told on certain days more than 30 people were dying due to hunger and illness.” Says Ghada Hatim, MSF head of mission in Nigeria.

Nigeria has developed the National Food and Nutrition Policy – experts say the document, if adopted and fully implemented at the state and local government levels, will by 2019 reduce stunting by 20%, reduce childhood wasting by 15% and increase exclusive breast feeding by 50%.

CS-SUNN is urging State Governments to adopt the National strategic plan of action and implement same with specific focus on Maternal and Child Nutrition component of the plan, Create specific budget line on Nutrition across relevant institutions, and encourage Exclusive Breast Feeding to combat endemic Malnutrition in the Country.

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