Nigeria has been ranked second after India in the list of countries with the highest cases of malnourished children in the world as it accounts for 10 percent of the 160 million stunted children globally.
In the figures, Kebbi State accounted for about 60 per cent of chronically malnourished children in the country.
The Head of Nutrition, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Chris Isokpunwu, disclosed this yesterday while briefing journalists at an event organised to assess Nigeria’s performance in the ‘Scaling up Nutrition Movement’ in Abuja.
According to Isokpunwu, the state alone accounts for about 60 per cent of chronically malnourished children unlike Lagos State where the stunting rate is about 23 per cent.
“And again, it is also worse when you look at the zones, the North-east, North-west and the North-central have the highest indices compared to the South-east, South-west and the South-south. However, the situation is worsening in the South-south and some parts of the South-west,” he said.
Isokpunwu said based on population, Nigeria had the second highest number of stunted children in the world after India because, we are 160million Nigerians and 20 per cent of that population are children under five and so, “when you have stunted level of 37 per cent, you are talking about 12 millions stunted and globally, we have about 160 million stunted children. So, Nigeria accounts for 10 per cent of that figure.
“This is a movement of the United Nations and of countries, donors, businesses and partners who have come together in a common goal to reduce malnutrition in the world, particularly in countries that have the highest level of the problem,” he said.
“Presently, about 90 per cent malnutrition globally is in 36 countries of the world out of 193 countries. Nigeria is one of the 36 countries. The malnutrition situation in Nigeria is not very encouraging as about 37 per cent of our children under the age of five have chronic malnutrition and 29 per cent are under weight, while 18 per cent have acute malnutrition.”
So, we are here to assess Nigeria’s performance in the last one year and it is called self-assessment. There are 50 countries in the ‘Scaling up Nutrition Movement’ presently and each of these countries will be doing it’s self-assessment in the next one year and this assessment will be put in the final report of the Scaling up Nutrition, which forms the annual report of the movement.
“We are bringing together the various networks, the civil society network, donors, the UN, the government and the business network. All these groups will be assessing Nigeria’s performance in each sector so as to know how Nigeria has performed between April last year and now.”
Speaking further, Isokpunwu said when we talk about donor agencies, we mean those agencies that are contributing to the ‘Scaling up Nutrition Movement’ in Nigeria. “I give you an example; Department of International Development (DFID) has pledged $50 million to improved malnutrition in northern Nigeria for the next 5 years. We are in the third year of the project.
Meanwhile, the Federal Ministry of Health yesterday created a budget line for nutrition that is funded. Some states in the northern part of Nigeria have also created a budget line.