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UNICEF makes case for war against malnutrition in the North-East

By Mayowa Okekale, Abuja on 18/08/2015

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Rate of malnutrition in the North-East part of Nigeria is known to be among the highest in the world, and fast becoming an issue which should not be ignored, going by the estimated 1.8 million children with the Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in need of urgent treatment.

The Chief of Nutrition at United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria, Mr. Arjan de Wagt, disclosed this while speaking yesterday during a press conference organised in Abuja by the Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF, on the theme ‘Saving children’s lives: Community-based management of acute malnutrition.’

In the event held at the Rock View Hotel, Wuse 11 Abuja, Mr. Wagt further discussed the adverse effects of malnutrition as ranging from presence of Oedema, adding that children with malnutrition face the risk of 9 times higher of dying and visible severe wasting.

Speaking on the achievements of UNICEF and number of lives saved, he noted that: “About 10 per cent of the malnourished population is in Nigeria and majority of these children are in the North-East of the country. Over 100 million have been admitted for treatment and 830,000 have been cured. 208,000 have been saved while 2 per cent did not recover.”

He also gave the rate of malnutrition in Nigeria, saying: “Currently, there are 1.7 million children in need of treatment. About 75,000 will be saved, but if there is a national coverage for the victims involved, about 325,000 would be saved more.”

When asked on what is needed to reduce the rate of malnutrition in the country, he admitted that more states in Nigeria need the programme so that there would be increased spread of the services across the states. “We believe there should also be awareness among population so as to create uptake of services. We will also start engaging communities for early identification of SAM cases.”

Also speaking at the press conference, the special guest for the event, Mr. Linus Awute, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health and UNICEF representative in Nigeria, who was ably represented by the Chief of Communication for the UNICEF in Nigeria, Dr. Wapada Balami admitted that the increased risk is very much threatening and that is why the Federal Government of Nigeria is patnering with the relevant stakeholders in the health sector.

He therefore added: “Nigeria must not continue to die of malnutrition. Though it starts from the period of pregnancy, it is at this point pre-conceptual counseling should start. Antenatal care should be conducted to detect the risk and challenges during pregnancy, and this is the knowledge all prospective mothers need to have.”

The event was however sponsored by some international organisations including: Children’s Investment Fund Foundation; USAID; Bill Mehinda Gates Foundation; JICA and UKaid.

From left: Photo shows the Chief of Nutrition at United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Nigeria, Mr Arjan de Wagt; Dr Dr Wapada Balami who represented the special guest and another female representative of the UNICEF

Source News Express

Posted 18/08/2015 06:11:27 AM





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