Every year, about 800,000 children under five years die in Nigeria, Developmental Communications Network (DEVCOMS), a non-governmental organisation, said on Friday. Biodun Owo, the organisation’s programme officer, said half of the deaths are as a result of malnutrition.
“In Nigeria, about 12.3 million children suffer from chronic malnutrition, out of which 300,000 are at risk of dying,” he said. “For those that survive, reaching their full potential becomes an uphill struggle. “Malnutrition, including under-nutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, including Vitamin A, Iron deficiency, Iodine remains problems of public health significance in Nigeria.” The 2015 national nutrition and health survey indicated that 19.4 per cent of children under five years old were underweight. It also stated that 32.9 per cent were stunted and 7.2 per cent were wasted. “These have far-reaching effects on individuals and impede the economic development of nations; however, the deficiencies can be effectively tackled through food fortification,” said Owo “Food fortification is defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) as ‘the practice of deliberately increasing the content of an essential micronutrient. “That is, vitamins and minerals, including trace elements in food, irrespective of whether the nutrients are originally in the food before processing or not.” He said on May 10, the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) in collaboration with National Agency for Food Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) hosted a stakeholder’s summit on food fortification. Owo said the summit aimed to reduce the undesirable impact of malnutrition and sustain the food fortification programme in Nigeria. “Stakeholders at the summit agreed that scaling up the availability and consumption of fortified foods in Nigeria will contribute to the achievement of a number of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs),” he said. “Reduce the incidence of Spina Bifida in unborn children, anaemia among women of reproductive age and enhance cognitive development within the first 1000 days of life.”
FOLLOW NEW AFRICA DAILY NEWS ON FACEBOOK @ New Africa Daily News.com