By Silas Odey
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says it is worried by the cases of malnutrition and open defecation in southern part of the country particularly in the South-South and South-Eastern parts of the region.
UNICEF, however, called for a holistic approach among stakeholders in the region to urgently tackle the issues, adding that cases of stunted growth were still on the increase in the country.
Speaking at a four-day workshop on strengthening capacity to mainstream nutrition on Friday in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Head of Rivers Field of UNICEF, Dr. Guy Yogo urged state governments in the zone to urgently tackle the menace.
Yogo also called for behavourial change among policy formulators and families in the fight against the menace, saying that some of the hard-held beliefs in the region had contributed to the rising cases of malnutrition on the zone.
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He said, “Fighting malnutrition calls for a holistic approach from individuals, families and government. There is a lot of misconception about malnutrition and or undernutrition, it is a complex issue, we living in the south actually believe we do not have food insecurity issues
“But malnutrition and undernutrition is still here with us. We have spoken about the rate of stunting, it’s a big issue, it is not about the quantity of food, and it’s all about the quality of food and quality of intervention.
“Why is it that children are wasting? Look at the open defecation rate in the south, it is very high. So we still need to have good hygiene, promotion of welfare practices in terms of sanitation, in order to cut down malnutrition and undernutrition.”
Yogo, who, however, commended the Akwa Ibom state government for tackling the development, expressed confidence that the problem would be resolve if state governments in the zone deplore political will to address the problems.
“We are however hopeful because there are lots of opportunities. We have seen a lot of political will on the part of the Akwa Ibom State government.
“But there is, however, the need to put in place some interventions we believe are of low cost but with high impact. These interventions would help us to reduce malnutrition rate”, Yogo said.
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In a similar vein, Head of Media and Communications, Enugu Field Office of UNICEF, Mrs Ijeoma Onuoha-Ogwe tasked both the conventional and the new media to carry out an agenda setting crusade to hold the society accountable for the malnutrition rate in the country.
She challenged media practitioners in the state to investigate the extent of implementation of the Child Right Act, of the state government
“The media have to work to ensure that all sectors of the Nigerian populace are well acquainted with what is expected of all the critical stakeholders to fight malnutrition. The society and media must always be accountable for the children around them. Help to ensure that a child has adequate nutritional upbringing”. She said
In her remarks, Commissioner for Women Affairs and Agriculture, Dr Gloria Edet disclosed that the state government had, in the 2019 budgetary allocation made provision for nutrition adding such provisions were distributed into 10 MDAs in the state.