Five United Nations agencies have called for urgent action to protect vulnerable children in Nigeria and 14 other countries hardest hit by the food and nutrition crisis.
A press release issued by the World Health Organization on Thursday noted that conflict, climate shocks, the ongoing impacts of COVID-19 and the rising cost of living are leaving increasing numbers of children acutely malnourished. , while key health, nutrition and other life-saving services are becoming less accessible.
The statement read in part: “Currently, more than 30 million children in the 15 most affected countries suffer from wasting, or acute malnutrition, and eight million of these children are severely wasted, the deadliest form of malnutrition. This is a major threat to children’s lives and their long-term health and development, the impacts of which are felt by individuals, their communities and their countries.
In response, five UN agencies: the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the UN Refugee Agency, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Food Program and the Organization The World Health Organization are calling for accelerated progress on the Global Action Plan on Childhood Wasting.
“Its objective is to prevent, detect and treat acute child malnutrition in the most affected countries, which are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Niger, Nigeria. , Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen.
“The Global Plan of Action addresses the need for a multisectoral approach and highlights priority actions in maternal and child nutrition through food, health, water and sanitation, and social protection systems.”
UN agencies are calling for decisive and timely action to prevent the crisis from becoming a tragedy for the world’s most vulnerable children.
“This situation is likely to deteriorate further in 2023.
“We must ensure the availability, affordability, and accessibility of healthy diets for young children, girls, and pregnant and lactating women. We need urgent action now to save lives and address the root causes of acute malnutrition, working together across all sectors,” said FAO Director-General Qu Dongyu.
WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus said: “The global food crisis is also a health crisis and a vicious circle: malnutrition leads to disease and disease leads to malnutrition.
“Urgent support is needed now in the countries most affected to protect the lives and health of children, including ensuring essential access to healthy food and nutrition services, especially for women and children.”
Meanwhile, a doctor and policy analyst, Dr. Julian Ojebo, said malnutrition in Nigeria may be associated with poverty, which can have long-lasting effects on children beginning before birth and continuing after birth.
“Economic power, which is the ability to pay for what an individual wants, can provide individuals with resources to avoid or mitigate exposure to health risks. When the child is properly fed, malnutrition is reduced or completely eradicated,” she said.
Furthermore, a professor of Public Health at the University of Ilorin, Tanimola Akande, urged the government to harness the country’s vast resources to reduce malnutrition in the country.
“Nigeria needs good leadership and governance to reduce the malnutrition rate in the country by harnessing the enormous resources the country has been blessed with. All sectors of the economy must be improved to ensure people-oriented programs that empower Nigerians,” Akande said.