Nigeria must invest in nutrition to fight stunted growth- UNICEF

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has called on governments at all levels, to intensify efforts toward investing in nutrition programmes in order to promote development of the country.

According to the agency, malnutrition is the biggest cause of stunted growth and Nigeria occupies second position in countries with highest number of stunts worldwide.

The UNICEF Chief Field Officer in charge of Kano and Katsina States, Madam Pathmavathi Yedla, made the call during a one-day symposium for academia, media and Civil Society Organisations (CSO’s) on nutrition situation in Katsina State.

She said the call became necessary because there was no way a country with higher number of malnourished children could develop.

Yedla said that the level of malnutrition in a country determines the percentage of its productive population.

‘’Nigeria needs to do more on nutrition to enable it develop,’’ she said.

The officer also urged head of households to always ensure that women and children were fed with nutritious food and maintained a clean environment to prevent household members from malnutrition and other related diseases.

In his remarks, the Director, Primary Healthcare in the State Primary Healthcare Agency, Dr Shamsuddeen Yahaya, said that Katsina State Government was collaborating with development partners to address malnutrition among children.

He said malnutrition affects academic performance of children in schools.

In his presentation, a UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Mr Niyi Oyedokun, said that more than half of child mortality occurred as a result of malnutrition.

He said that malnutrition is caused by diseases and insufficient food intake in children particularly during their early days.

Oyedokun revealed that malnutrition could lead to stunting, wasting and underweight in children.

He noted that poor nutrition of child during his first 1,000 days could lead to stunting.

Oyedokun pointed out that a survey has showed that 80 per cent of all stunted children in the world were from 14 countries, in which, Nigeria is the second-highest in the list.

According to him,  the North West region has the highest number of stunted children in the country.

The Officer, therefore, urged the media, academia, civil society organizations and other stakeholders to continue to join hands with relevant agencies to reverse the ugly trend.

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