UNICEF said on Thursday that 55 per cent of child mortality in Nigeria was associated with malnutrition.
Mr Arjan de WAGT, UNICEF Chief Nutritionist, said this at the opening of a two-day media dialogue on Nutrition and Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in Kano.
The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the objective of workshop is to create opportunity for media advocacy on child nutrition by sensitising journalists on nutrition crisis in Nigeria.
WAGT said that child malnutrition was a national concern that cuts across the rich, the poor, food producing communities and it goes a long way to affect the development of the child.
“Children’s nutritional status is the reflection of their overall health and it determines their developmental process, survival in life and 55 per cent of child mortality is associated with malnutrition.
“Under nourished children have lowered resistance to infection and are more likely to die of common childhood sicknesses.
“It is very important that the nutrient of a child at the first two years of life is highly nourishing to develop the child properly,” WAGT said.
He added that the proper nutrition of a child begins from the mother, adding that it affects all stages of life.
The officer said that malnutrition results in low birth weight baby, child growth failure, low weight and height in adolescents and eventually small adult woman.
“Poor maternal nutrition can result in disability of a baby or even a miscarriage because most important organs of the body develop before a woman realises she is pregnant,” he said.
According to him, nutrients required by the body are graded as macro nutrients and micro nutrients.
He explained that macro nutrients were needed by the body in large quantity and could be sourced from carbohydrate based food.
WAGT added that micro nutrients were needed in minute quantities but had great effect on the body.
The facilitator also stated that lack of iodine in the nutrition of a child could lead to mental retardation and engender poor cognitive performance.
“Nutrition has its impact on the educational performance of a child because the child has poor growth and will likely make the child lose 0.7 grades in school.
“The child will also have seven months delay in starting school, reduction in mental capacity and adverse school performance,” said the officer.
WAGT stressed that 80 per cent of the brain size of a child was developed within the first two years and if poorly developed could not be improved on.
He also added that malnutrition was categorised into acute and chronic, explaining that acute is characterised by rapid weight loss and inability to grow in height irrespective of the age in chronic malnutrition.
NAN also reports that the participants are expected to use their respective medium to advocate for urgent action in child malnutrition.
They are also expected to engage in aggressive reportage on the nutrition crisis with focus on increasing government funding to combat malnutrition crisis at the end of the dialogue.