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Nigeria: ‘A Life Free from Hunger’ launch

On Wednesday 7 March, Save the Children launched a new report in Nigeria, A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling child malnutrition, as part of our global commitment to address malnutrition.

Coming on the heels of the recent National Summit on Nutrition, the launch brought to the fore the alarming malnutrition situation in Nigeria.

Left to right: Save the Children Nigeria Head of Health, Binyam Gebru, Nigeria Country Director, Susan Grant and Nigeria Senior Governance and Advocacy Adviser, David Olayemi

In the report, Save the Children warns that rising food prices and malnutrition are putting future global progress on child mortality at risk.

The study is particularly relevant to Nigeria where a recent withdrawal of fuel subsidy by the federal government has helped to push up food prices.

Issues addressed

The consensus among stakeholders at the launch was that there is an urgent need for the Nigerian government – at federal, state and local levels – to take immediate steps to address hunger and malnutrition, especially in children and pregnant women, if the country is to meet or at least make significant progress towards Millennium Development Goals 1, 4 and 5 before the 2015 deadline.

Addressing stakeholders at the launch, Save the Children’s Country Director, Susan Grant, noted that “malnutrition is the underlying cause of the deaths of 2.6 million children each year, however, but it’s not recorded on death certificates and as a result has become the silent death and has not been effectively addressed.”

She explained that as part of its global commitment to prioritise nutrition, “Save the Children, in partnership with Action Against Hunger and UNICEF, will work to improve nutrition in northern Nigeria through strengthening nutrition interventions which would improve the lives of over six million children.”

Save the Children’s Senior Governance and Advocacy Adviser, David Olayemi, who reviewed the report stated that “almost two in five children are stunted – a total of 60 million children – in Africa are stunted while Nigeria alone accounts for 11 million stunted children”.

Prevent malnutrition

Mrs Maryam Uwais, a National Nutrition Champion, said, “It is a shame really that Nigeria has so many resources but is not applying them to support the poor and more vulnerable in our society”.

She charged governments at all levels “to focus more on interventions that prevent malnutrition, by investing in the production of locally available nutritional foods and the manufacture of ready-to-use therapeutic foods (such as Plumpy’nut) to achieve our commitments to the Millennium Development Goals, MDGs.

“A fact that we will never know; the child that is malnourished today could become Nigeria’s president tomorrow, if treated in time!”

Call to action

The launch came to an end with Save the Children calling on government at all levels to :

  • train and deploy more nutritionists and health workers to deliver quality nutrition services
  • take urgent steps to update the National Policy on Food and Nutrition and add targets to reduce chronic and acute children malnutrition by 2015
  • allocate and disperse more resources at all levels for nutrition interventions.

The launch was attended by over 100 people from the public, private and civil society sectors.

Read our report: A Life Free from Hunger: Tackling child malnutrition

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