A recent revelation by the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey has brought to light a distressing situation in the country, as approximately 19.8 million children suffer from malnutrition.
Nigeria now bears the highest burden of stunting in Africa and ranks second highest in the world for this issue.
The survey’s findings indicate that “a staggering 70 percent of children under the age of five are anemic,” highlighting the critical role of child nutrition in human capital development within Nigeria.
The situation demands urgent attention and intervention, as it poses a significant crisis.
Kano State, situated in the North-West region, bears a substantial portion of this burden, with an alarming 1.5 million children under five years old suffering from stunting.
This represents over 10 percent of the nation’s overall burden.
A poignant account from Channels Television sheds light on the harrowing reality faced by these children.
According to the report, at a local health center, “children under five are receiving medical attention for acute malnutrition and related ailments.”
Among them are heartbreaking cases like three-year-old Ahmed, who was severely malnourished and unable to sit or stand.
Similarly, 18-month-old Abdulmalik weighed as much as a three-month-old baby, prompting his mother to seek treatment from a neighboring state.
A recent survey on infant and young child feeding practices, focusing on children aged 0 to 23 months, has captured these struggles.
For Kano State, the situation is particularly dire, with only 10.1 percent of babies being exclusively breastfed, 15.7 percent receiving a diverse diet, and merely 10.6 percent obtaining food from animal sources like meat, milk, and eggs.
In response to the crisis, donor organizations are collaborating with the Kano Ministry of Health to provide treatment for malnourished children. However, the challenge remains enormous, and ready-to-use therapeutic food (RTF) deployment falls short in meeting the overwhelming demand.
Despite the obstacles, the Kano State Nutrition Coordinator assures that the government is committed to addressing malnutrition. Key to this effort is the education of mothers, who receive sensitization on proper nutrition and breastfeeding during their visits to health facilities like the Angwan-Ukwu Health Centre, where hope still prevails. Recovering children like Farida, who is breastfeeding her late sister’s child, and Amina, a mother of twins, can now smile as their children have regained their playful spirits once more.