In Adamawa State, Nigeria, it has been discovered that no fewer than 34,512 children are suffering from ‘severe‘ malnutrition, a situation which the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has described as “high prevalence” and unacceptable.
According to Abdulai Kaikai who is the Chief Field Officer, Bauchi Field Office, UNICEF Nigeria, the figure emanated from the Standardised Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transition (SMART) exercise recently carried out by the organisation.
Kaikai said the situation if not urgently curbed, will increase the children’s mortality (death) rate by nine folds compared to well-nourished children.
He noted that there is an immediate need to ensure that the lives of children affected by Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) are saved.
Exclusive breast feeding is generally known to be the best form of infants feeding, and based on that, the chief field officer disclosed that the nutrition survey conducted in 2015 precisely in Adamawa State, showed that only 18% of children under-six months were exclusively breastfed.
According to him;
“Children from 0-6 months, who are not breast-fed have 5 and 7 times risk of dying from pneumonia and diarrhea respectively.
“There is an immediate need to improve Infant and Young Child Feeding (IYCF) practices, promote exclusive breast feeding with adequate complementary foods, until 24 months and beyond.”
On Hygiene Practices, it has always been a priority in child care system where parents are advised to practice good hygiene – both personal and environmental. This instructions are especial given to women who are raising children because they are prone to contacting infectious diseases from the environments.
Therefore, Kaikai emphasised that good hygienic measures will also proffer immense solution towards prevention of diseases.
“There is need for improvement of hygiene practices, which constitute the most effective preventive interventions to prevent acute malnutrition and reducing child morbidity and mortality,” he said.