The Anambra State chapter of the Nigerian Civil Society Scale-up Nutrition, a Non-Government Organisation (NGO), has alleged that 18 per cent of children in the state under the age of five suffer from malnutrition-based stunted growth, reports NaijaAgroNet.
The Local Working Group Coordinator for the NGO, Dr. Moses Ohamaeme, told newsmen at the state capital, Awka at the weekend that a survey conducted in the South east region by the organisation showed that Anambra State is worst hit in child malnutrition.
NaijaAgroNet also reports that Ohamaeme pointed out that malnutrition is severe among children with low milk consumption as well as those whose mothers had limited knowledge of its impact, stressing that malnourished babies have a higher risk of dying at infancy and are more likely to face life-long cognitive challenges capable of leading to poor school performance and chronic health problems.
He equally said that malnutrition in children usually manifest in form of wasting which Ohamaeme described as low weight for height, stunting as low height for age and underweight as low weight for age.
Lamenting this situation in a state like Anambra, reputed for abundant human and material resources, Dr. Ohamaeme emphasized that malnutrition and its related diseases are still an issue in public health in Anambra State. The state also has the lowest median of Exclusive Breast Feeding (EBF) in the zone.
“Even though EBF in the first six months is proven to be effective in preventing children from malnutrition, the practice is still very low in Anambra State,” he said.
The Group Coordinator in Anambra State, further urged the state government to create nutritional budget lines in the state ministries of health, primary health care development agency, education, economic planning, and agriculture.
In addition, the NGO said, local governments and the state House of Assembly should as matter of urgency similarly make certain the inclusiveness of funding for maternal child and adolescent nutrition centre among others.
NaijaAgroNet recalls that on 14 November 2011, the Federal Republic of Nigeria joined the global Scale-Up Nutrition (SUN) Movement with a letter of commitment from then Minister of Health, Dr. Onyebuchi Chukwu.
Noteworthy is that then, Nigeria recognised the role of nutrition as a development issue and had committed to addressing malnutrition with the adoption of a National Health Strategic Development Plan which recognises nutrition as an important component.