Group meets to dialogue on child malnutrition reporting in North-East Nigeria

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The Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Monday began a three-day media dialogue on child malnutrition reporting.

The participants were drawn from various print and electronic media organisations across the country.

The objectives of the dialogue were presented by Folashade Adebayo, Communication Officer, UNICEF Maiduguri.

In his welcome address, Samuel Sesay, the Officer-in-Charge, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Maiduguri said that malnutrition is the underlying cause of nearly half of all deaths in under-five children globally and it is currently the biggest threat to child survival and development in north-east Nigeria.

Sesay said, “Households in the region are experiencing unprecedented levels of food crisis and hunger. Household food insecurity, poor infant and young child feeding and care practices, as well as poor feeding environment, hygiene, and health services have been identified as the underlying causes of undernutrition in children. In North-East Nigeria, however, conflict, multiple displacements, destruction of sources of livelihood for households, destruction of basic infrastructure and services, climate change and the COVID-19 pandemic are peculiar contributors to the growing number of children affected by undernutrition”.

He added that the importance of good nutrition on children’s development is enormous, with a far-reaching impact on child education, health, adult earning power, individual and family finance, as well as the country’s economy. Therefore, it is unacceptable that children continue to bear the greatest burden of conflict, climate change and COVID-19.

“Ensuring good nutrition in children helps families and is a cheaper route to nation-building.

“UNICEF has been supporting government and non-government partners in the north-east region on early detection, referral and management of severe acute malnutrition in children, provision of ready-to-use therapeutic food in the outpatient therapeutic feeding programme, deployment of community nutrition mobilisers in communities and IDP camps and establishment of mother-to-mother support groups, the conduct of cooking demonstrations in communities, supplementation of children with Vitamin A, deworming prophylaxis fortification of children diets with multiple micronutrient powder, supplementation of pregnant and lactating women with Iron and Folic acid supplements to prevent malnutrition.

“UNICEF continuously advocates and works together with government of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states for increased budgetary allocation and release of funding for nutrition, as well as multisectoral approach to address malnutrition by combined efforts of line ministries (Heath, Water Resources Agriculture, Education, Commerce, Animal Resources. Women Affairs and Social Welfare).

“As the watchdog of the society, the media has the responsibility to bring the attention of policymakers to the nutrition crisis in north-east Nigeria. Our nutrition and media facilitators are ready to engage with you to promote the wellbeing of conflict-affected children in the region” Sesay said in his welcome address.

Dr Sangita Jacob Duggal, Nutrition Manager, UNICEF Maiduguri made a presentation on media partnership on child undernutrition in North-East Nigeria. She talked about undernutrition, nutrition, minimum acceptable diet in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, minimum dietary diversity in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.

“The consumption of fortified food items are significantly reduced for 6-23 months old children. Over 60 per cent of women including adolescent girls age 15-49 are anaemic in Borno and Yobe (DHIS 2018).”

According to her, around 50 per cent of women of Nigeria and adolescent girls aged 15-49 years do not consume meat, fish and poultry in Borno and Yobe.

“Consumption of Vitamin A rich food items among women and adolescent girls aged 15-49 decreased significantly”.

A brief overview on nutrition was given by the Yobe State Nutrition Officer (SNO), Hadiza Maina and Deputy Director, Borno State Primary Health Care Development Agency while Ifeanyi Maduansi, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist presented on combating child undernutrition in North-East Nigeria.

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