Women malnourished, children undernourished in Nigeria - Report

Lagos- Nigeria (PANA) -- At least one in every 10 women in Nigeria is chronically malnourished, according to a just released survey on food and nutrition status in the country.
The survey, conducted between 2001 and 2003 by the Nigerian government in collaboration with the Nigeria-based International Institute of Tropical Africa (IITA), also showed that children suffered from increased micronutrient deficiencies, childhood diseases and persistent malaria attacks.
Micronutrient deficiencies range from lack or inadequate Vitamin A, which could result in blindness in children and reproductive health complications in women, as well as iodine inadequacy, which could also result in goitre development in women and mental retardation in children.
The survey, compiled in a report made available to PANA in Lagos Wednesday, found that 11.
6 per cent of women were suffering from chronic malnutrition and a higher percentage of women were found to be overweight.
Women with overweight problems constitute 19.
9 percent of the female population, and this has a serious health implications for them and their newborns, it said.
The report also showed a steep increase in the incidence of wasting between six and 12 months, which corresponds with an end to exclusive breastfeeding and the introduction of complimentary foods for some children.
Malaria was the most prevalent illness for those surveyed, having afflicted 71 percent of children at least once and affecting 32 percent between two and four times a year.
Diarrhoea was also the most prevalent illness in the rural area and the dry savannah, with oral rehydration solution as the most popular method of treating it.
The survey noted that only 21 percent of children were fully immunised against all the childhood diseases, and that the level of immunisation increased with the level of mother's education.
The report recommended the support of the existing micronutrient deficiency control programmes, and called for increased research and public education to address the issue of iodine nutrition.
It also called for the establishment of a nutrition commission and increased support for government's ongoing malaria project, increased promotion of oral rehydration therapy to control diarrhoea and the strengthening of existing child survival programmes.

12 may 2004 10:28:00




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