Mrs Aji Robinson, the FCT Coordinator of Civil Society Scaling-Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUN) says malnourished mothers are more likely to have stunted children than those who take balanced diet.
She made this known on Monday in Abuja at an entrepreneurship skills exhibition organised by Adolescent Care Support and Empowerment Initiative (ACSEI), a Non-Governmental Organisation that specialises in youth development and empowerment, using education and arts.
Defining malnourishment as a condition that occurs when people consistently do not consume the right amount of foods with essential nutrients, Robinson stressed the need for government and stakeholders to invest in good nutrition for the populace.
She explained that “unlike investments in physical infrastructure, investment intended to reduce malnutrition generate benefits that are durable, inalienable and portable.
“These investments also fuel progress toward achieving all the 17 development goals in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the UN, including education and poverty alleviation.
“This is because ensuring optimum nutrition particularly in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can permanently preserve an individual’s development and maximise his or her productive potential.”
She added that malnutrition was a major contributing cause of illnesses and death in women of child bearing age and their children.
According to her, Nigeria’s Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2018 shows that 37 per cent of children are stunted, 7.1 per cent are
wasted and 22.7 per cent are underweight as a result of malnutrition.
She noted that malnutrition is caused by several factors, including the lack of food, improper feeding and caring practice, poor economic and political structures, low income status of households, the lack of education among women.
She emphasised that “not only are chronically undernourished children short in physical stature, the development of their brains is also retarded.
“Critical brain development in children happens early in life before the age of two; however, in stunted children, there is poor cognitive development which prevents them from reaching their full potential.
“Childhood stunting has lifelong consequences for cognitive function, human capital, poverty, and equity.”
She, therefore, called on government at all levels, particularly the FCT Administration, to invest in the nutritional development of the society by reducing poverty among residents.
Robinson also called on parents to invest more in the nutritional level of the household to check stunted growth in families.
Dr Beatrice Ogerenyi, the Director of Adolescent Care Support and Empowerment Initiative (ACSEI) project, organisers of the exhibition, urged government to take health issues seriously.
According to Ogerenyi, education and art are needed to encourage children in the line of entrepreneurship and healthcare sector.
She said “the bottom line is that nutrition is the mother of all things, and so, we need to empower this young ones, especially young girls.
“We need to educate young girls on malnutrition and its consequences so that they will be in better position to take care of themselves and future families.”
“When girls are empowered or when the young adolescent is empowered, the person will know the right foods to eat and that is why we are giving this skill acquisition.”
News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the exhibition, organised to commemorate the 59th independence of the country, had many FCT schools in attendance, among other organisations. (NAN)