600,000 Nigerian Children in Jigawa State Malnourished – UNICEF

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Muhammad Badaru

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The United Nations Children Fund call on the three tiers of governments in Nigeria to take action to save the lives of thousands of children who are malnourished and are likely to die if nothing is done to save their lives

By Anayo Ezugwu  |  Mar 7, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT  |

ABOUT 600,000 of the 1.1 million children below the age of five in Jigawa State are malnourished. Arjan de-Wagt, chief nutritionist, United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF in Nigeria, said the figure is far more than the national average, which is 63 percent malnourished.

De-Wagt, who made the disclosure when he led other partners on “Improving Nutrition in Northern Nigeria” on a courtesy visit to Governor Muhammad Badaru of the state in Dutse, said 165,000 children from six to 59 months in the state are severely malnourished and are nine times likely to die. “Without treatment, an estimated 32,000 of these are likely to die this year. In our latest statistics, Jigawa has the highest number of malnourished children in the country which means half of its children are affected. About 102,000 children from zero to six months do not get exclusive breast feeding. Breast feeding is the most effective intervention to prevent malnutrition and save lives,” he said.

The chief nutritionist also said that 650,000 children from six months to five years did not receive Vitamin A supplement. According to de-Wagt, 117,000 of the 265,000 pregnant women in the state do not also take iron supplement during pregnancy to prevent anaemia. He stressed the need for the federal and state governments to put in place ‘nutrition coordination and planning mechanism’ as intervention measure to curb malnutrition and save lives.

De-Wagt who was pleased by the response of the governor on how the two sides can work harmoniously to address the ugly situation, said UNICEF had in the last five years been working in 15 out of the 27 local government areas of the state to improve the nutrition status of children and mothers. He said the work was being undertaken by UNICEF in conjunction with other partners such as the Save the Children and Action against Hunger, ACF. He said over 40,000 children’s’ lives were saved in the state through treatment and various interventions undertaken by UNICEF and its partners.

Responding, Governor Badaru, who described the situation as ‘worrisome and pathetic’ promised to take drastic measures to reverse the trend. He said his government had commenced reforms in the health sector to improve the health conditions of the people. “We are aware of the dangers and my government will take all the necessary steps to reverse the situation. This is of great concern to me because there cannot be any growth or development in the state without healthy people. I shall expend all necessary political will to tackle the problem,” he said, pledging to set up a technical committee to look into the statistics and find immediate solutions to the problem.

The World Bank had in July 2014 stated that the number of poor Nigerians remained at 58 million, adding that more than half of the figure are located in the North-east or North-west. “Poverty rates range from 16 percent in the South-West to 52 percent in the North-East. While the North central experienced decline in the poverty rate between 2010/2011 and 2012/2013, the poverty rate increased almost unchanged in the North West.”

The bank in its second edition of the Nigeria Economic Report, NER, said the rebasing of the economy as well as analysis from the new General Household Surveys, GHS, conducted by the National Bureau of Statistics, NBS, with the support of the Bank, the new poverty estimates in 2010/2011 and 2012/2013 should be within the range of 35.2 percent and 33.1 percent, respectively.

—  Mar 7, 2016 @ 01:00 GMT

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