Despite concerted efforts to curb the menace, malnutrition among children under five years is worsening in Nigeria, a new survey has revealed.
The fifth round Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS5) also shows that malnutrition in under five children living in rural areas is higher than those in urban areas.
The survey was carried out in 2016/2017 by the National Bureau of Statistics, (NBS), is in collaboration with the National Primary Healthcare Development Agency (NPHCDA) and National Agency for the Control of Aids (NACA) as part of the global MICS programme.
According to the report, underweight prevalence (children who are too thin for their age) increased from 24.2% to 31.5%, stunting prevalence (children who are short for their age) increased from 34.8% to 43.6% while wasting prevalence (children who are too thin for their height) increased marginally from 10.2% to 10.8%.
Malnutrition is a condition that occurs when people consistently do not consume or absorb the right amounts and types of food and essential nutrients. Globally, it contributes to nearly half of all child deaths — that is more than three million children each year.
In same development, Nigeria still ranks third highest in childhood mortality in the world, after India and Pakistan, despite a nationwide drop in infant mortality rate from 97 per 1000 live births recorded in 2011, to 70 per 1000 live births in 2016 to 2017.
The MICS5 report also revealed that the probability of a child dying between birth and fifth birthday, dropped from 158 per 1000 live births in 2011 to 120 per 1000 live births in 2016 to 2017.
Earlier, the head of nutrition division, federal ministry of health, Chris Isokpunwu, said that the country needs N279.54 billion ($912 million) to address malnutrition in all states for five years.
The amount, according to him represents what is needed to be invested by all, including private, government and donor partners for the next five years and it will help save 123,000 lives each year, while it will also prevent 890,000 children from stunting, which is one of the manifestation of malnutrition in children.
In the middle of 2017, Aliko Dangote Foundation pledged to expend $100 million (about N36billion) to reduce the prevalence of under nutrition by 60percent in the worst affected parts of Nigeria.
In 2016, the Federal Government approved N4billion to tackle malnutrition in North-east Nigeria.