Why Nigeria has alarming rate of malnutrition — Expert

Edo Govt. maps out strategies to combat malnutrition
United Bank for Africa

A Nutritionist, Mrs Blessing Timothy, on Friday said that lack of information on good nutrition was largely responsible for the alarming rate of malnourished children in Nigeria.

Timothy told Newsverge in Kaduna that good information in the hands of nursing mothers, care givers and parents would prevent malnutrition in the country.

The expert explained that a major step to preventing malnutrition was for mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children for six months.

She added that with appropriate information, under five years children could be well fed with little or no money using available local resources in homes.

“This is because infants get all the nutrients their body need in the first six months from breast milk and this would cost the mother nothing.

“After six months, the mother is expected to complement the breast milk with other food, because at that time the body system would need more nutrients than breaks milk could provides.”

Timothy further said that a mother could prepare complementary food from rice, corn, millet and other grains or tubers for carbohydrates and from palm oil and fortified vegetable oil for farts and oil.

She also said that fish, meat, milk, egg, crayfish, groundnuts, Soya beans and beans in homes are good source of protein for the child.

For vitamins and minerals, the nutritionist recommended carrots, vegetables, tomatoes, onions and fruits such as oranges, bananas, mangoes, pineapples and melon.

She urged nursing mothers and care givers to prepare rice and vegetable stew or yam pottage with crayfish and vegetable for the child.

“They could also prepare pap with groundnut paste and a spoon of palm oil or ripe plantain with crayfish and vegetable, “she added.

The nutritionist called on government agencies and other relevant stakeholders to intensify awareness campaign to enlighten mothers and caregivers on Infant and Young Child Feeding [IYCF].

In a related development, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has commended the Kaduna State Government for releasing about a million dollars in January for the treatment of severe acute malnourished children in the state.

The Country Representative, UNICEF Nigeria, Mohammed Fall gave the commendation while interacting with community leaders at Dutsen Abba District in Zaria Local Government Area of the state recently.

Fall, who was in the community to see how services were being delivered to women and children, also commended the efforts of community volunteers on IYCF.

Laure Garba, the IYCF Chairperson in the community, said the incidence of child and maternal death had drastically reduced since the interventions.

She equally said that the incidence of malaria, diarrhoea and other infectious diseases had reduced following the practice of exclusive breastfeeding, hand washing and environmental sanitation, among others.

“Our children are growing strong and healthy because we embraced exclusive breastfeeding and balance complementary feeding, “she said.