By Dayo Johnson
AKURE—THE United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, yesterday raised alarm that 17million Nigerian children are stunted due to malnutrition.
UNICEF’s Nutrition Specialist of its Akure Office, Mrs Ada Ezeogu, said this yesterday at the opening of a 2-day ‘Media dialogue on child nutrition in South West Nigeria’, in Ibadan, Oyo State.
Ezeogu noted that statistics “showed that 37 per cent of children representing over six million are malnourished, 43.6 per cent of estimated 40 million Nigerian children under age of 5yrs (from estimated population of 197 million) are stunted, while 19.4 per cent of children in the South West suffer same deficiency.”
“This is worse than the South East and South South but better than the North. And we must do more as agenda setters to keep this issue on national discourse and help reverse the ugly trend”, she added.
Noting that stunting is a life sentence, Ezeogu estimated that the “total number of stunted under-5 children in the country stands at 17, 217, 743 and 1, 514, 111 in the South West region while Ogun State has the highest incidence with 26.1 per cent and 277, 462 children.
“The downward slide in the bid to reduce its prevalence some decades ago which was pegged at 50.3 per cent in 1990, drastically reduced overtime, but now increased significantly to 43.6 per cent according to a 2017 statistics report.
The UNICEF Communication Officer, Lagos, Mrs Blessing Ejiofor, said that the media dialogue which is in collaboration with Ogun State Ministry of Information and Strategy, is a proactive partnership with journalists to sensitize the general public on causes and solutions to the menace.
Ejiofor said: “As agenda setters, we must do more to keep child nutrition conversations on the priority list of those that can act to reverse this ugly trend. UNICEF believes that journalists can help set the agenda for action against all forms of child malnutrition: be it severe acute malnutrition or stunting.”
Information and Strategy commissioner in Ogun state, Dayo Adeneye lamented that “the overview of National Nutritional Level shows that 80 per cent of the world’s stunted children, live in 14 countries and Nigeria is the second largest contributor after India.