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Nigeria Behind Schedule In Achieving SDGs 2 – UNICEF

Nkeiru Enwelum, the Nutrition Officer for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has warned that if current malnutrition patterns continue, Nigeria will fall short of reaching Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger) by 2030.

According to her, the National Demographics Health Survey (NDHS) stated that Nigeria is number one in Africa and number two in the world in terms of malnourished children. Of the 35 million children under the ages of five , 14 million are stunted, 3 million wasted and 24 million anaemic.

She made this known at a Two day media dialogue with media practitioners on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as Child Rights’ organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau (CRIB) of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Her words; ” Nigeria has 32% of stunted children and about 6.8% wasted. This figure stipulates that Nigeria has 14.5 million people suffering from acute malnutrition.

” The first 1,000 days of life is a critical window of opportunity for nutrition from conception up till the child second birthday. That period has been established as the critical window of opportunity to implement impact interventions in a child’s life in order to prevent malnutrition and mortality and ensure that children grows well and reverse the trend of malnutrition. If malnutrition is beyond the critical window of opportunity, it’s irreversible.

“The Convention on the right of a child stipulates that children has the right to food and the SDGs recognizes the importance of nutrition as critical to economic development and wellbeing of countries. It also situated SDGs as one that focuses on nutrition contributing to zero hunger , there are indication that track child nutrition specifically child wasting and child stunting”, she explained.

Speaking on prevention of malnutrition, Enwelum said;” It cost $15 (N6,000) to prevent malnutrition through the delivery of high impact nutrition interventions . It cost $120 (N60,000) to treat malnutrition through Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition ( 8 times the cost of prevention).”

She , however, warned that failure to prevent and treat malnutrition can result in Long term congnitive and growth impacts; loss of income for households and up to 15% GDP loss for Nigeria; and increased morbidity and potential deaths.

Also, UNICEF Communications Specialist, Dr Geoffrey Njoku said we must work on providing framework and resources to eliminating child malnutrition in Nigeria.

He said, we are not going to achieve the SDGs relating to health. If a child is stunted, the brain is also stunted and the child will not his full potential as an adult.

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