Covid-19 And Malnutrition Scourge In Nigeria
No doubt, novel pandemic of corona virus has disrupted and distorted different areas of human endeavours and nutrition ecosystem readily comes to minds in this regard. Figures available on nutrition status of Nigerians, pre- pandemic, revealed Nigeria had second highest number of number malnourished children with 2.5 million children in danger of severe acute malnutrition (UNICEF 2020). 37 percent of under 5 children were stunted. The prevalence of wasting among Nigerian children stood around 18 percent while prevalence of undernutrition among pregnant women was 11 percent and overweight/obesity was 25 percent (NationalPopulation Commission and ICF International, 2014). Children and mothers in rural areas bear the brunt of this tragedy.
Impact of covid-19 restriction will worsen above scenario in multiple folds. The biggest issue with lockdown and other preventive measures was the disruption of food system. Access to basic commodities became problem because market places and hospitals were closed. Getting Vitamin A supplements for infants and young children was prematurely cut off, thereby denies certain group of children not having the require amount of this nutrient needed for their development. Similarly, pregnant women inability to access antenatal care might deprived growing foetuses nutrients like iron, folic acid and B- complex needed to the concept of 'first 1000 days', starting from pregnancy to the second birthday.
For record purpose, growth and development of children has been affected and this takes long serious efforts to be ameliorated.
To start with, routine antenatal visits for pregnant women should improve with local governments playing leading roles in community sensitization. While vitamin A distribution should extend beyond primary health care centers (PHCs), house and community supply should be activated. With this, development partners can work with community health workers and media houses to work out its success models.
Similarly, in promoting children growth, importance of homemade nutrients-rich foods and complementary feedings should be emphasized. Practical approach should be adopted to teach and train young mothers this technique using Social marketing models.
No health challenge is bigger or greater than another, Nigeria government: federal, states, and local governments should upheld sanctity of lives of mothers and children by giving adequate attention to their activities. In the name of getting vaccines for covid-19, under no circumstance should we jettison precious lives of our mothers and children. Every live should count.
MUSA, Aliyu a nutrition advocate from Ilorin. [email protected]