Prof. Ngozi Nnam, President, Federation of African Nutrition Societies, says that failure of governments in the African region to include nutrition in the COVID-19 recovery plan will result in drastic increase in wasting of children on the continent.
Nnam, a professor of Community and Public Health Nutrition at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, said this was crucial, considering the fact that Africa is one of the continents that had the highest rates of malnourished children before the outbreak of the pandemic.
The professor disclosed this during an exclusive interview with PUNCH HealthWise, stressing that the COVID-19 global pandemic had worsened the burden of child malnutrition in the region. She noted that the pandemic, in less than eight months, had reversed the gains made in the fight against under-five malnutrition for many years.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, wasting, also known as low weight for height, is a strong predictor of mortality among children under five, occasioned by acute significant food shortage and/or disease. The UN agency says that wasting is indicative of a serious problem urgently requiring a response.
Giving insight into the benefits of having a nutrition component in the COVID-19 response and recovery plan, the nutritionist said, “It is very vital that nutrition is included in the COVID-19 response and recovery plan because, during this period of the pandemic, the rate of malnutrition has increased drastically, particularly wasting and underweight, among under-five children. Millions of children across the globe are undergoing wasting as a result of COVID-19.” Punch