Poor Diet, Insecurity Major Causes Of Child Malnutrition – UNICEF

Poor Diet, Insecurity Major Causes Of Child Malnutrition – UNICEF

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Poor diet and insecurity have been identified as one of the major causes of malnutrition, contributing to stunting, wasting, and micronutrient deficiencies in Nigerian children.

The chief of field office of United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Nigeria, Bauchi Field Office, Dr Tushar Rane, said children under two years of age are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of poor diets. The first two years of life, or the first 1,000 days, are critical for children’s growth and development.

He explained that despite the commendable efforts, Plateau State still faces significant challenges in addressing malnutrition. Statistics from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS 2021) highlight concerning figures, such as low percentages of children receiving minimum dietary diversity.

In the same vein, a LEADERSHIP investigation revealed that children in three local government areas of Plateau State risk stunting and acute malnutrition if their mothers do not imbibe the culture of feeding them with balanced meals.

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

The former executive secretary of the State Primary Healthcare Board, Dr Livinus Miapkwap said it is already alarming that children between six to 59 weeks are experiencing stunting. 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 session on infant and young child feeding (IYCF) organised by the board in collaboration with UNICEF for health workers in the three identified local government areas in the state.

Similarly, the state nutrition officer, Mrs Lydia Ishaku, said that in order to curb malnutrition, the women are encouraged during the health talks to do backyard gardening. They can plant foods that they can easily access to complement their dieting, which should consist of each food group.

 

Speaking on the negative impact of insecurity on child nutrition in Plateau State, the North Central Zonal Coordinator of Civil Liberties Organization (CLO), Steve Aluko, said it is regrettable that Plateau, as an agrarian state is known for harvest every three months, is facing this challenge.

According to him, one factor is insecurity because when there is no food security or adequate plan to secure the lives of the children, malnutrition becomes a major challenge. It can also be linked to over a decade of internally displaced persons on the Plateau who have not been integrated.

Aluko argued that insecurity can lead to displacement, causing families to flee their homes and leave behind their livelihoods, including farms and food sources, adding that it can disrupt food supply chains, leading to scarcity and high prices, making it difficult for families to access nutritious food.

“It can lead to poverty, reducing families’ ability to afford nutritious food, particularly among children, pregnant women, and breastfeeding mothers, reduced access to healthcare including nutrition-related healthcare,” he said.

According to him, the state government must address the security challenges in Plateau State to ensure children have access to nutritious food and adequate nutrition for optimal growth and development.

 

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