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UNICEF: Nigeria Has Largest Number Of Malnourished Children Globally

Statistics made available have indicated that Nigeria is home to the largest population of chronically malnourished children in the world with 11 million being stunted.

The statistics further indicate that Bauchi is contributing to the number with a stunting rate at 46%, wasting 9.5% and 28.2% underweight according to NDHIS 2018.

The statistics was given by a UNICEF Facilitator on Nutrition, Jessica Bartholomew who stated that nutrition is the only to way get a nation’s human capital development right.

She was speaking at a 2-day State Committee on Food and Nutrition meeting held at CHOB Guest House, Jos, Plateau State.

It was to build the capacity of members of the Bauchi State Committee on Food and Nutrition on basic nutrition package development activity, work plan and operationalization of performance management system.

Jessica Bartholomew added that as a Committee with the mandate to coordinate nutrition activities in the state, there is a need to make the government realize the need to address nutrition which is of critical importance for achieving SDGs, especially, goals related to hunger, child and maternal health and education.

The facilitator also noted that the government needs to invest in interventions as childhood stunting is estimated to reduce at least 10% of potential life savings, stressing that, “According to World Bank estimation, increasing in nutrition can increase a country’s gross domestic product by at least 3% annually.”

In his remarks, Nutrition Officer, UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, Dr Martins Jacksons emphasized the need for sustained awareness of exclusive breastfeeding in the first 6 months of a child’s life to address malnutrition.

“UNICEF is counting on your commitment to change the narrative on issues are nutrition in Bauchi State, we shall continue to give you the necessary support.”

Secretary of Bauchi State Committee on Food and Nutrition, Usman Muhammad said that the capacity building on basic nutrition concepts, nutrition-sensitive, nutrition-specific interventions and performance management system aims to enhance the effectiveness, knowledge, skills and practices of the committee in addressing malnutrition and promote optimal nutritional health across the State.

He stressed that the specific objective is to also develop and implement a performance management system.

While giving an overview of the nutrition situation in Bauchi State, State Nutrition Officer, Abubakar Saleh said that the state in the first quarter of 2024 had admitted 4,384 children with severe acute malnutrition across 14 integrated management of acute malnutrition (IMAM) centres.

Of these number, only 451 have completed treatment while the state recorded four deaths, “The state commenced treatment in February 2024 when we took delivery of 17.000 cartoons of RUTF from USAID.”