Nigerian Government Establishes Task Force to Combat Child Malnutrition

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The Nigerian government has formed a ministerial task force to swiftly develop an action plan addressing malnutrition among children, according to Coordinating Minister of Health and Social Welfare, Muhammad Pate. In a statement issued on Thursday, Pate emphasised the need for resource mobilisation and solutions to combat the substantial malnutrition burden on young girls and women.

 

Pate stressed that adequate coordination and prompt action are critical for tackling the country’s malnutrition crisis. The task force will monitor progress and ensure accountability in implementing urgent interventions, such as the distribution of micronutrient powders, therapeutic foods, and other nutritional supplements.

 

Nigeria faces one of the highest global burdens of malnutrition, with the crisis particularly severe in the North-west and North-east regions. Factors contributing to this include poor governance, high dependency ratios, poverty, insecurity, climate change impacts on agriculture, inadequate feeding practices, and the economic disempowerment of girls and women.

 

International partners have urged the Nigerian government to secure $30 million in funding from the World Bank’s Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN) project. This $232 million initiative aims to enhance quality and cost-effective nutrition services for pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls, and children under five.

 

The ministry plans to increase local production of therapeutic foods and engage communities more in treatment, expanding beyond the current 1,192 treatment sites. State authorities are called upon to complement federal efforts and allocate additional resources to manage the crisis.

 

A UNICEF report highlights that Nigeria has the second highest prevalence of stunted children globally, with 32 percent of children under five affected. An estimated two million children suffer from severe acute malnutrition, but only 20 percent receive treatment. Médecins Sans Frontières has reported a significant increase in malnutrition cases in the north, surpassing last year’s figures by over 100 percent in some areas.

 

Pate concluded by urging collective action to address the worsening malnutrition crisis, emphasizing its moral and developmental imperatives.

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