Every hour, almost 100 children under the age of five die in Nigeria due to malnutrition, the United Nations Children’s Fund has said.
The Chief Nutritionist for UNICEF, Nemat Hajeebhoy, said this on Thursday in Abuja during a media executive roundtable meeting organised by the National Council of Nutrition in collaboration with the Office of the Vice President, with support from UNICEF, the Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, Federal Ministry of Health, among others.
According to Hajeebhoy, malnutrition threatens the survival and growth of Nigerian children.
She said poor diets were robbing millions of children of their health, development, and lifetime prospects and many children were not getting the diets and supplements they needed to grow.
Left untreated, children with severe acute malnutrition are nearly 12 times more likely to die than a healthy child.
“Without urgent action, UNICEF estimates that 14.7 million children under five will suffer from moderate and severe acute malnutrition (wasting) this year.
“Thirteen million children will suffer from moderate acute malnutrition and 1.7 million children will suffer from severe acute malnutrition.”
She noted that there is up to 15 per cent Gross Domestic Product loss for Nigeria if no action is taken.
“Food insecurity is a major threat to Nigeria’s future and one in three households cannot afford the lowest cost nutritious diet,” she added.
Also, the Head of Nutrition and Food Safety Division of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, Dr Rasaq Oyeleke, said the 17 sustainable development goals would not be achieved without improving food systems.
“The food systems must provide sufficient energy and essential nutrients to maintain good health of the population,” he said.