Unknown to many, a stranger has quietly strolled in like a thief in the night, eating away the lives of many young Nigerians before they attain the age of five.

This silent killer, currently ravaging infants across the country is blind to class and not limited to any region, it is called malnutrition and it is reported to be thhunger-3-239x300e cause of the increasing rate of stunted growth and infant mortality in Nigeria. Some children with stunted growth Research conducted by the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Funds, UNICEF, revealed that though poverty contributes to malnutrition, children from rich homes are also affected due to ignorance.

Speaking on Nutrition Interventions in Nigeria, at a media   dialogue organised by the UNICEF for journalists in some states of the federation, a nutrition specialist, Mrs. Ada Ezeogu, highlighted causes of child malnutrition to include inadequate diet, inadequate care, unhealthy households, and food insecurity. According to her, there are three ways in which a child can be malnourished, which  are under-nutrition, over-nutrtion, and micro-nutrient deficiency, emphasising  the need for a child to have appropriate and healthy food within 1000 days of birth, Ezeogu noted  that there is need for mothers to be educated on child nutrition.

Stunning revelation

Also, according to a nutrition expert from the Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Ogunbunmi Omotayo, the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey revealed that “Nigeria has the highest number of stunted children under the age of  five in sub-Saharan Africa and second highest in the world with 37 per cent of all children stunted, 18 per cent wasting and 29 per cent underweight.” She explained further that  the infant mortality rate was 69 in 1000 live births, and children under five years have 128 in 1000 live births, while only 17 per cent were exclusively breast fed. But unknown to many these figures do not represent only those at the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Camps across the North East, it is a common phenomenon, across all  regions, even in the South West, where cases of stunted growth are  prevalent.

UNCEF cries out

According to UNICEF which recently raised the alarm over the prevalence and effect of malnutrition in the South-West geo-political zone of the country, 22 per cent of children under five years in the zone have stunted growth. The UNICEF Communication  Specialist, Mr. Geoffrey Njoku, who gave the figure explained that it was erroneous and misleading to believe that malnutrition was prevalent only in the North.

The rich also cry Quoting a 2013 survey, Njoku said studies had shown that malnutrition was prevalent among children of the rich people of the South-West under the age of five, saying malnutrition was a national problem and  laid emphasis on sharing responsibilities on investing in simple cost interventions. Njoku   narrated his experience in the South Eastern part of the country, especially in Imo State, where he said that 13 per cent of children born to rich families also suffer malnutrition.

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