Malnutrition, a serious condition that occurs when the diet does not contain the right amount of nutrients, is a public health issue all over the world and it persists in all its forms, including undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and protein deficiency, with children being the most affected.
In 2020, over 149 million under-fives worldwide are estimated to have been stunted, or too short for their age; more than 45 million, wasted, or too thin for their height; and nearly 39 million are obese or overweight, according to United Nations report.
While the state of food security and nutrition in the world (SOFI) 2021 report indicates that progress has been made for some forms of malnutrition, the world is not on track to achieve any global nutrition targets by 2030.
Based on a conservative scenario, the SOFI report projected that an additional 22 million children in low and middle-income countries will be stunted and an additional 40 million will be wasted between 2020 and 2030 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Nigeria, the situation of malnutrition is dire. Currently, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says five in 10 children under five years old in Nigeria suffer from the effects of being malnourished.
According to the 2018 Nigeria Demography and Health Survey (NDHS), malnutrition is largely concentrated in Nigeria’s northern states, the proportion of stunted children is highest in the North-West at 57 per cent and lowest in the South-East at 18 per cent.
By state, NDHS report stated that stunting is most prevalent in Kebbi at 66 per cent, Jigawa at 64 per cent and Katsina at 61 per cent and these are all North-West states.
Malnutrition is least prevalent in the South-East states of Anambra at 14 per cent and Enugu at 14.8 per cent, the proportion of children who are wasted is approximately twice as high in the North-East at 10 per cent and North-West at 9 per cent, and in the other zones, the percentage is at 4 per cent to 6 per cent, the survey revealed. Leadership