Nigeria children record the highest number of stunted growth in Africa

Amidst increasing world’s food insecurity, Nigeria is said to have the highest level of stunted children under the age of five in sub Saharan Africa.

Head of Nutrition Division, Federal Ministry of Health,  Dr Chris Isokpunwu stated this at  a media dialogue on malnutrition which was organized  by UNICEF in Ibadan.
The nutrition expert, said Nigeria was the second highest in the world, putting this at 37 per cent.
The expert, added also that 18% and 29% of children in the country were also wasting and underweight respectively, two conditions also suggestive of malnutrition.
Isokpunwu, noting that nutrition has a powerful influence on growth, development and productivity of every individual, stated that malnutrition contributes to about 50 per cent of deaths in children below five in Nigeria.
The expert decried poor investment in nutrition, saying “this has not been commensurate with its contribution to child mortality.”
According to him, “optimum nutrient at each stage of lifestyle is therefore a fundamental human right.”
He expressed  concern  on increasing cases of child malnutrition due to the economic  downturn in the country, said stunting affects does not just mental capacity, but makes children short for their  age.
According to him, “that is why we talk about the first 1000 days of life. If you do not give that child the nutrient that such a child requires, that child is never going to get to his full potentials in terms of intellect and physic.”
He, however, described exclusive breast feeding in first six months of life as beneficial in curtailing malnutrition in children and avert deaths.
According to him, “an estimated 13% of child death can be averted if 90% of mothers breastfeed exclusively for the first six months of life.
Breastfeeding has a wide range of benefits for child survival, for health, for nutrition and health of the child. It provides adequate nutrients and the mother does not need to do anything.”
He, however, urged media practitioners to use their platforms to advocate and become advocates to ensure that nutrition has a budget line and that the funds are released timely.

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