Experts have warned that the spike in COVID-19 cases may likely disrupt nutrition, immunization and other health services, thereby further worsening the nutritional status of many children.
Children evoke strong emotions in most of us. Those with children may be worried about their welfare. Children are at very low direct risk from COVID-19, but they are at heightened risk of exploitation, violence and abuse when schools are closed and social services are interrupted due to health emergencies. And, they are at very high risk of malnutrition and starvation.
Unfortunately, COVID-19 has become a double-edged sword for the poor; who are often faced with the tough choice to either die from coronavirus or from hunger. The accompanying lockdown has contributed to under nutrition in vulnerable groups, particularly children. Prior research had already established that malnutrition in children could lead to both physical and mental problems, as the child grow older. Even more, malnutrition and HIV/AIDs may make children worse hit by COVID-19 because it weakens people’s immune systems.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Nigeria currently has over two million children that are aged under five, suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), largely caused by a significant imbalance between nutritional intake and individual needs. Unfortunately, “The high rate of malnutrition, HIV/AIDs and cholera among children in Africa may make them more vulnerable to COVID-19 pandemic, which is gradually spreading in the region,” said World Health Organization’s Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.
In addition, the closure of schools also eliminates access to school-based nutrition programmes, driving malnutrition rates upwards, a hidden impact of COVID– 19 among children and young people, said UNICEF Executive Director, Henrietta Fore. Nigerian Tribune