The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has indicated that 100 children under the age of five die of malnutrition in Nigeria every hour.
UNICEF’s chief nutrition officer, Nemat Hajeebhoy, disclosed this on Thursday at a meeting organised by the National Council on Nutrition (NCN) in Abuja.
The chief noted that if urgent action is not taken, another 15 million children are at risk of wasting. Wasting is a term used to describe children who get emaciated as a result of malnutrition.
“Every hour in Nigeria, almost a hundred children under the age of five die. So by the time we are done with this meeting, 300 children would have died in this country,” he said.
“If a child is malnourished, they are 12 times more likely to die. We know that today without urgent action, there would have been this year and next year close to 15 million children who will suffer from what we call wasting (thin children).
“This is an indicator that there is a crisis in the country and I would like to call it a nutrition emergency. There is a nutrition emergency in the country today. Nigeria is ranked number one in Africa and second in the world in the total of children malnourished.
“We have some good news, we have seen stunting come down over the years but that rate of decline is very slow. Moreover, this slow rate of decline is costing our economy 15 percent GDP loss to Nigeria.”
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