The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Thursday said prevailing increase in prices of food items was hampering ongoing fight against malnutrition in the country.
The Fund’s Nutrition Specialist, Dr Florence Oni, stated this at a Quarterly Review Meeting of Kaduna State Committee on Food and Nutrition with nutrition officers from 23 local government areas in Kaduna.
Oni said that the price hike on the items was eating up household food security and negatively impacting on current fight against malnutrition, the silent child killer in the country.
“Increase in food prices is evident all over the country.
“This development is seriously eating up food security, plunging households into hunger, which increases malnutrition and predisposes children to untimely death.
“If you don’t eat well, malnutrition enters and all kinds of diseases get access to your body and eventually lead to untimely and preventable deaths,’’ she said.
She described malnutrition as a “national issue affecting all states in the federation’’, and stressed the need for collaborative effort of all government’s department and agencies to stem the scourge.
The expert commended Kaduna State Government for the release of funds and other efforts in curbing the challenge in the state, adding that the efforts were already yielding the desired result.
Also speaking, Prof. Kola Aniyo of Food and Nutrition Unit, Department of Biochemistry, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, said that Kaduna state contributed a large percentage of the malnutrition crises in the North-West.
Aniyo, however, commended the state government for its effort through the community management of acute malnutrition in Zaria and other interventions to address the problem.
He identified capacity gap as another challenge impeding the fight against malnutrition in the state, urging that the state should invest in capacity building of its officers handling nutrition issues.
On her part, wife of the state governor, Hajiya Aisha El-Rufai, said that malnutrition situation in the state was “alarming, worrisome and unacceptable’’.
She said that the state government would do everything possible to salvage the lives of women and children suffering from malnutrition, neglect and lack of basic necessities of life.
“We all have a duty to educate our people and teach them the basics of food and nutrition as well as provide the enabling environment for women and children to live a healthy life.
“Malnutrition should not have a place in Kaduna state, given the abundant agricultural produce. We must all join hands to save this state from the silent child killer called malnutrition,’’ El-Rufai said.
She assured the committee of her support and commitment in the fight against the challenge.
Earlier, the Director, Development Aid Coordinator, Mrs Phoebe Yayi, said that the essence of the meeting was to receive report of malnutrition intervention from relevant ministries department and agencies and NGOs.
She also said that the meeting would update members of the committee on the recently launched National Policy on Food and Nutrition.
“It was also organized to sensitise nutrition officers in the local government areas on the activities and functions of the state committee and to articulate work plan for the next quarter.
“I am optimistic that today we will renew our commitment to do the needful,’’ Yayi said.