The Federal Government has lauded the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Department for International Development (DFID) for their efforts aimed at ensuring bright future for children in Nigeria, particularly in addressing Malnutrition.
The Deputy Director/Head of Child Rights Information Bureau at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, Abuja, Olumide Osanyinpeju who spoke on behalf of Nigerian Government said the efforts of UNICEF in Nigeria is laudable.
Osanyinpeju spoke at a Media Dialogue held in Yola, Adamawa state on the management of severe acute Malnutrition in the North East, organised by Child Rights Information Bureau at the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with UNICEF.
His words, “Let me first of all commend UNICEF for their unyielding partnership with the Federal Government of Nigeria, and for their contributions towards all activities being carried out to uphold the rights of Nigerian children.
“I wish to specifically note the constant support of the Media and External Relations Section, and the consistent efforts at ensuring that the wellbeing of our children is promoted through the various interventions of the Section, one of which is continuous dialogues with members of the Fourth Estate of the Realm.”
The UNICEF Communication Specialist, Dr Geoffrey Njoku said objective of the media dialogue was to present fact and and figure to expose the current situation of malnutrition to draw attention to it so that necessary steps would be taken to address the problem.
Dr Njoku charged the participants to explore various media tools to take messages on malnutrition situation to the policy makers so as to prompt them to come up with policies that would bring positive change.
A nutrition expert, Dr David Bamidele Omotola gave the overview of the situation of malnutrition in the North East in which he revealed mind bugling figures of malnourished children in the region.
Dr Omotola said as a result of malnutrition, 25 million children under age five in Nigeria are affected by wasting and that 10 million children in the country are stunting.
He lamented that the insurgency in the North East as a result of the Boko Haram crisis has further worsened the problem of malnutrition in the region as people could no longer go to their farms which contributed to food scarcity.
He warned that children with severe form of acute malnutrition has nine fold risk of death compare to well nourished children. He said one in five children with severe acute malnutrition cases would die if treatment is not provided at right time.
Speaking at the media dialogue attended by journalists drawn from different parts of the country, a UNICEF Nutrition Officer, Dr Martins Jackson highlighted the efforts of UNICEF in collaboration with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (UK-DFID) and other partners in addressing and curtailing the scourge of malnutrition in the North East.
He said malnourished children and women were admitted and are being treated thorough a orogramme tagged Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in eleven states in the North.
Dr Martins explained that 90 percent of Children admitted to CMAM for treatment are under two years of age and that CMAM is providing therapeutic feeding
Participants at the meeting
for them. He aaded that mothers are being paid some alliances on a monthly basis as an incentive to persuade them to breastfeed their children.
Speaking further, Osanyinpeju also commended the UKAid’s Department for International Department (DFID) and the Federal Ministry of Health and other line Partners for their collaboration in addressing Malnutrition innthe North East.
He said “We highly acknowledge your priceless contributions towards promoting the health of Nigerian mothers and children, and in ensuring that the goals of the health strategies targeted at them are met through constant dialogues.”
Osanyinpeju said there is need for investment in child malnutrition for the future and that it is necessary to raise awareness and understanding on the problem of malnutrition in Nigeria so as to ensure allocation of resource for food and nutrition security at all levels.
He said “It is imperative to combat Malnutrition, because it can cause death in young children, particularly those under five years of age. There should be concerted effort to fight malnutrition out in totality to ensure the attainment of desired results.”
“Malnutrition is a large burden to a country, and tackling malnutrition entails empowering and educating people. Improved nutrition is the key to improved national and human development and this can be done by educating the populace and creating a positive approach towards nutrition.”
He added that addressing nutrition is one of the ways through which sustainable development goals can be achieved.
He emphasised the need for strategic efforts to improve food security at the national, community and household levels to reduce malnutrition among infants and children, adolescents and women of reproductive age and to significantly reduce micronutrient deficiency disorders, especially among the vulnerable group and to increase the knowledge of nutrition among the populace.
He charged the media to raise awareness and understanding on the problem of malnutrition in Nigeria. “It is necessary that awareness be created amongst Nigerian populace especially for mothers; both lactating and non-lactating mothers to give within the first six (6) months of birth the breast milk which is enough for the infant, as nutrition is the key to national development.
He also said that adequate attention should be given to the nutrition of women, especially pregnant women to reduce severe and acute malnutrition.
“Let us share the vision to see that every citizen has food that is nutrition secured by mobilizing people at grassroot level to know their rights with regards to food by involving policy makers, work with the government and see how to tackle the issue of stunting, wasting and obesity to its minimal level.
“Journalists should come together in leadership to take actions on malnutrition for a better growth and well-nourished Nigeria in the future.”