Data from the National Nutrition and Health Survey (2018) indicates that not less than 2.6 million children under the age of five years in Nigeria are severely malnourished. The data further revealed that the North East is the worst hit with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) at 1.5 percent, with North West, North Central, South East, South West, and South South, having scores of 1.4, 1.0, 0.3, 0.5 and 0.5 respectively.
The national average is one percent. With the current socio-economic situation in the country, stakeholders in the health sector have warned that the figure may be worse now than what it was in 2018. They therefore called for more public-private partnerships to achieve innovative financing for nutrition, in order to end the scourge of SAM in Nigeria. The country director of Network for Health Equity and Development, Dr. Emmanuel Sokpo, made this known during a virtual media parley on the National Nutrition Conference organised by the International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) and the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF).
He said, “severe acute malnutrition (SAM) is a life-threatening condition affecting over 2.6 million Nigerian children under the age of 5 years. Children with SAM are nine times more likely to die than well-nourished children, are more likely to be sick, and it reduces their cognitive ability.” “More than 10 percent of household earnings are lost due to poor productivity, increased health costs. Also, only there have been only 672,000 admissions out of the 2.6m affected children nationwide.” The Nation