By Auwal Ahmad
The United Nations Children Education Fund (UNICEF) has expressed worry over the increasing rate of malnutrition particularly in North East Nigeria, and urged state Assemblies in the region to adequately appropriate funds to the health sector in the 2018 budget.
UNICEF Chief Field Officer for Bauchi, Abdullai Kakai, who was represented by the Office’s Nutrition Specialist, Philomena Irene, made the called while speaking during the opening ceremony of a two day capacity building workshop for lawmakers on universal health coverage held in Gombe yesterday.
He said the call become necessary, following the increasing rate of malnutrition in the country as the report recently released by Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) for 2016 in Nigeria showed an increase in child wasting from 24.2 per cent to 31.5 per cent while stunting had equally increased from 34.8 per cent to 43.6 per cent.
According to him, the report showed that the Northern part of the country appears to be worse off as nearly half of all the children’s death is related to poor nutrition.
She said investment in nutrition which is cost-effective will help reverse this negative trend as well as boost Nigeria’s GDP. “The World Bank in its 2017 report revealed that every N1, 000 invested on nutrition will yield a N16, 000 return, showing that nutrition is for development of the nation and therefore any resources invested in it is not a loss, but a boost for the economy,” she stressed.
While commending the state legislatures for responding positively towards the enhancement of health and nutrition of women and children through appropriation of resources for promotion of rights of children in their state budgets, she implored them to make adequate provision of funds in the 2018 budget.
Earlier, while declaring the workshop open, the Speaker of Gombe Assembly, Abubakar Nasiru Nono, who was represented by the Majority Leader, Amos Fabulous, described the workshop as very important and timely as it would go a long way in helping the legislators put more efforts in reducing the indices of malnutrition in their various states.