The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, yesterday reported over 2.5 million Nigerian children were suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition, SAM, warning that 20 percent of the children could die if urgent steps were not taken earnestly to address the situation. Bama IDP Camp: Children at Bama IDP Camp in Maiduguri during Ministers Tour of Bama . Photo by Gbemiga Olamikan. Chief of Communications UNICEF, Doune Porter, who disclosed this at a two day media dialogue on Child Nutrition with the theme, “Good Nutrition- An Investment for the Future”, said the development was a serious issue that required the attention of both government and all stakeholders in the health sector. Porter noted that “Malnutrition has become a public health emergency in Nigeria”, saying statistics showed that one out of five children were malnourished and two out of three in Nigeria were not being giving the right food. According to her, the problem was not restricted to the north eastern part of the country where activities of insurgents were prevalent but a major challenge in all parts of Nigeria.
Porter who regretted that the world body could not reach all Nigerian children in its intervention efforts “Nigeria is quite a huge country that requires many hands on deck to address the nutrition challenges in parts of the country. Nigeria government should invest in more in children nutrition. UNICEF cannot be in every part of the country all the time but through small intervention we can make a good effect on how to tackle malnutrition through evidence based approach. That is the more reason why governments at all levels must invests more in preventing cases of malnutrition in children because today over 2.5million Nigerian children are down with Severe Acute Malnutrition, SAM which is actually a huge number.” She solicited for the cooperation of the media in tackling the situation which she noted was a major health challenge and one of the leading causes of infants’ mortality in the country. Earlier, Minister of Information, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, represented by Rose Madu, the Head, Child Rights Information Bureau in the Ministry, pointed out that the role of the media was critical to the success of the campaign against malnutrition in the country. Also speaking, a Nutrition Advocacy Specialist from UNICEF, Dr Zacharia Fusheini, explained that child malnutrition could be prevented within 1,000 days of a child’s life. He said a total of $61 dollars was required treat a child with severe malnutrition under the UNICEF Community- based Management of Acute Malnutrition, CMAM, stressing that “Without this treatment is likely that the child will die. Spending $61 dollars to save a child’s life is cost effective.”