Eleven million children in Nigeria suffer chronic malnutrition, a condition commonly referred to as wasted, says the group Save the Children. Their condition leaves them increasingly exposed to infection, susceptible to illness and account for nearly 53% of deaths that could be otherwise prevented.
"Malnutrition has been the silent crisis for too long," said Susan Grant, country director for Save the Children in Nigeria, noting that it is an underlying cause in at least 2.6 million annual deaths worldwide.
"It is time world leaders invest in tackling child malnutrition and ensure all children have a life free from hunger." In a new global report A Life Free From Hunger, Save the Children said malnutrition also affected physical and cognitive growth. Among an estimated 60 million children stunted in Africa, one in every five lives in Nigeria.
The group called on Nigerian government to deploy more nutritionists to deliver quality nutrition services, as well as update its national policy on food and nutrition. It also wants government to ensure its commitment to better child nutrition are implemented through well funded and transparent institutions.
The government could also "implemented a combination of effective social protection, food fortification, support and education for mothers, as well as support for the growth of the agricultural sector to improve food security," said Save the Children.
Malnourished childhood found detrimental to later adult life. The report highlights that recent withdrawal of fuel price subsidy by the Nigerian government has pushed up food prices and could worsen the malnutrition crisis by making it difficult for many of the poorest children in the country to access basic food staples.
The report remarked a serious link between malnutrition and poverty, noting that poor children were twice more likely to be stunted and face tougher economic situations in later life.