An estimated 500,000 Nigerian children aged five years and below are at risk of dying from malnutrition by the end of this year except funds are urgently released to tackle the debilitating condition, UNICEF has alerted.
These at-risk children are among the 2.5 million children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition, SAM, a condition associated with insufficient nutrients needed for a child’s development. With government silent on specific allocation of funds to tackle malnutrition in the 2017 Federal budget, UNICEF officials and stakeholders at a recent national media dialogue in Yola, Adamawa State, affirmed that the only way Nigeria can end child malnutrition in the short term is to source the required sum of $144 million to treat at least two million underfed children in the country.
They argued that to avert more deaths from severe acute malnutrition, Federal government must as a matter of urgency invest more in intervention services, particularly the Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM).
Available statistical estimates show that no less than half a million Nigerian children aged five and below die yearly as a result of malnutrition, hence, investing in nutrition will yield valuable returns.
At the media dialogue with the theme: “Investing in Child Malnutrition For the Future, “UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Mrs. Philomena Irene, observed that although there are pockets of malnutrition all over the country, the cases are more in the North, particularly in the North East apparently due to insurgency.
Irene said inaction at any level could cost every investment of $1 a loss of $16. “If government does not spend the $1 needed to prevent malnutrition now, $16 would be spent on numerous diseases that malnutrition causes in the future.”