Acute malnutrition in North-East to increase by 34 per cent in 2022: UN

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The UN Children’s Fund on Wednesday said the North-East is experiencing its highest burden of acute malnutrition since 2016, with a 34 per cent projected increase in 2022, compared to 2021.

Peter Hawkins, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, in a statement on Wednesday, said malnutrition, which is the single most deadly threat to child survival, was affecting children in North-East in a deadly way.

Mr Hawkins said unless urgent actions were taken, at least 1.7 million under-five children in North-East Nigeria would need acute malnutrition treatment in 2022.

According to the UN agency, 13 years of armed conflict in North-East Nigeria has left women and children in acute vulnerability.

It asserts that the congestion in camps, high rates of open defecation and poor sanitation practices have put conflict-affected families and children at risk of disease outbreaks and preventable deaths.

Also, insecurity, loss of livelihood opportunities, high food prices and COVID-19 combined have put 4.1 million people in need of food assistance, drastically impacting the nutrition quality available for children in the region.

He said the agency received $2.7 million from the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) to implement the maternal nutrition counselling and acute intervention programme in the North-East.

Mr Hawkins said insecurity, global hike in food prices and humanitarian interventions targeting early detection at household level were resulting in a record number of under-five children presenting symptoms of acute malnutrition and needing life-saving services.

“UNICEF is grateful that the support from SIDA will help to scale treatment services to more children and address contributory water and sanitation services issues in camps and settlements.

“It will also help increase investment in preventive nutrition services targeting pregnant women and lactating mothers with maternal nutrition services,” he said.

(NAN)

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