Children in three Plateau LGAs at risk of malnutrition, stunting

By Marie-Therese Nanlong – Jos

Children in three local government areas of Plateau State risk stunting and acute malnutrition if their mothers do not practise exclusive breastfeeding and imbibe the culture of feeding them with balanced meals.

Most children in Jos North, Mangu and Shendam local government areas of the State are said to be facing malnutrition hence the intervention to reverse the trend.

The Executive Secretary of the State Primary Healthcare Board, Dr Livinus Miapkwap said it is already alarming that children between six (6) to 59 weeks are experiencing stunting and if the State is not careful, the situation may get to what is obtained in the North East region of the country where children are suffering from acute malnutrition.

Miapkwap spoke during a three-day training organized by the Board in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF on Infant Young Child Feeding, IYCF for health workers in the three identified local government areas which is aimed at building their capacity to support community members in ensuring acceptable feeding practices which will boost the health of the children.

Charging the participants, he said, “We need this intervention on the Plateau, use the opportunity to impact positively because the children are our future.

“Statistics show that stunting rate is rising in the State and if Plateau is not careful, it may get to an alarming rate.

“Mothers need to have information about exclusive breastfeeding and good nutrition, we need to do something so that our situation does not get bad to what is happening in the North East of Nigeria.”

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Similarly, Chief of UNICEF’s Bauchi Field Office, Bahnu Pathak, represented by UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Dr Rajia Sharhan, lamented the increasing rate of malnutrition among children in the North but was optimistic that the training would provide a long-term solution to the nutrition challenges like stunting.

Pathak said, “This training is one vital exercise for the prevention of malnutrition in children. Over the years, UNICEF has championed the IYCF practice using support groups to deliver key messages to nursing mothers and other caregivers including fathers in urban and rural communities to sensitize them on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding and its early initiation.

“These support groups are vital for the prevention of malnutrition in Shendam, Mangu and Jos North. According to the indicators, Plateau situation is stable, but stunting and moderate acute malnutrition and stunting, which is irreversible is on the rise.

“The first line of intervention is to prevent malnutrition and support mothers and caregivers on appropriate complementary feeding.”

Meanwhile, advocacy visits were paid to communities in the affected local government areas where Dr. Sharhan made urged mothers to do away with baby formula which are expensive and make use of locally available nutritious food and fruits to cater for children especially those under five years of age.

She said, “Breastfeeding has countless benefits for mothers, children, and families. It provides total food security for infants, which is available and affordable. Nutritious food should be provided for infants up to six months of age and continue to when the child gets to two years and beyond. That way, we are sure of a healthy future generation, devoid of malnutrition, stunting, and other health challenges.”

The Director of Primary Health Care in Jos North local government area, Rebecca Nimlan who lamented the rising cases of malnutrition in the area noted that malnourishment is prevalent among the almajiris roaming the streets of the metropolis with bulging stomach and ringworm saying, “the sanitary conditions are poor, 15% of the population are not drinking clean water, drainages are not maintained, wells are not covered, we all must join hands and reverse the trend of malnutrition in our communities.”

Vanguard News Nigeria.

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