The United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) has raised concerns that children in some northern Nigerian states, particularly Borno, Adamawa and Yobe, are at risk severe malnutrition.
The UN agency reports that malnutrition in these states has reached the threshold of a global emergency that it calls for local and international intervention.
UNICEF records show that over 440,000 children under the age of five are expected to experience Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in the three northeastern states before the end of 2019, but that the figure is expected to drop to 258,950 in 2020.
A breakdown of figures for 2019 indicates that 11 percent of children in Borno State suffer SAM, 13 percent in Yobe and six percent in Adamawa.
This information was contained in presentation made by UNICEF nutrition specialist Abigail Nyukuri at a DFID sponsored media event in Maiduguri, the Borno State on Thursday.
She said the problem of malnutrition has been worsened by the inability of local and international health and rescue workers to access communities in Rann, Magumeri, Jere and Konduga Local Government Areas due to the recent rise in Boko Haram attacks.
According to Nyukuri, N4.4 billion was required to close the funding gap for the procurement of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for distribution to malnourished children at Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camps.
Meanwhile, Minister of information and Culture, Lai Mohammed, remarked that Nigerians should be provided with more opportunities to access adequate education on food and nutrition.
The Minister, who was represented by Olumide Osanyipeju, said that such knowledge would help Nigerians feed well and, most importantly, pass knowledge to their children to reduce the high cases of acute malnutrition which has threatened the lives of millions of children in Nigeria, especially in the northern states.
He insisted that Nigeria’s future depends on producing healthy and well-nourished children that are prepared to take their place in local and international life.
“Unfortunately, otherwise seems to be the case. Large numbers of Nigerian children are at risk of deprivations of basic social amenities, of which nutrition is inclusive, particularly in northern rural and hard-to-reach communities,” the Minister said.