The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, Monday disclosed that over 67 percent of women in Nigeria are anaemic.
The global organization cautioned that of the figure, those that could still have children might not come out alive if they get pregnant except something urgent was done to tackle the worrisome nutrition deficiency rate in the country.
UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Mrs. Ngozi Onuora who made the disclosure during a five day ‘Community of Practice workshop on Building Capacity to Mainstream Nutrition into the Investment Agenda, lamented the effect of malnutrition on the overall health and wellbeing of the mother and child.
While speaking on the objective of the workshop and the ‘Effective Management of First 1,000 days Window of Opportunity for Every Child – Strategic Preventive Option’, Mrs. Onuora noted that the issue of malnutrition was multilayered, emphasising that the nutrition of the mother and child in the first 1,000 days of the baby’s life starting from the first nine months in the womb and two years after birth remained critical to the wellbeing of the mother and child.
She stressed the importance of ensuring good nutrition for women of child bearing age and the expectant mother for the healthy development of the baby even at foetal stage.
According to her, “67 percent of women in Nigeria are anaemic. For the purpose of child bearing, you will need to build up her blood level otherwise she will die. She cannot survive that pregnancy; we must boost their blood.”
While also lamenting the rate of child malnutrition in the country, Mrs. Onuora said Nigeria had been rated first in Africa and second in the global malnutrition burden with 17 million undernourished children which posed a huge threat to the general wellbeing of the country.
She observed that the investments in the nutrition of infants, children and mothers would boost growth stressing that nutrition from the womb, infancy and early child was essential for child survival, growth, quality physical development and productivity.
“From the womb, infancy and early childhood, first 1,000 days are the critical window for growth and development,” she said.
According to her, the issue of nutrition must take the centre stage in the country as the political class resume campaigns ahead of the 2023 election “because it is key to the development of the country.”
Present at the workshop are participants from the academia, government functionaries and nutrition specialists drawn from states including Enugu, Benue, Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra, Cross River, Delta, Kogi, Bayelsa and Akwa Ibom.