MALNUTRITION; EVERY EFFORT COUNTS
At the park on my way home for the holidays, I was drawn to a family of four (4) particularly their three (3) years son who they referred to as Bobe. He held on to two grime refilled bottles of water like his life depended on it. He was shivering in the morning breeze so terribly his shrunken pale legs with patches of dried water could not carry him. His lean body made him look smaller that his actual age. At 6:00 am, his faded sky blue kaftan with matching trousers now brownish had observable oil stains. Bobe, his parents and frail looking baby sister had been in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp for months and were looking forward to visiting relatives in Yola. Bobe evidently had a fragile body system as a result of low personal hygiene as well as malnutrition. It got critical, a few passengers at the park contributed to buy Bobe a cardigan to keep him warm through the journey.
I came across Aminu at the pediatric ward. An eighteen (18) months old struggling to survive after a series of health complications from Acute Malnutrition. Skinny with low body weight, dehydration, hyper-pigmented skin, he had ulceration in his mouth, throat through to his anal region. He also had the resemblance of severe burns round his back and bum. His belly had protruded with his hair badly discolored and scanty. With all the pain and discomfort, Aminu had lost his sight due to the complications from his condition. Aminu, unfortunately, was one of the 900,000 children who lost their lives as a result of malnutrition that year.
Malnutrition, Is the nutritional deficiency which comes from an insufficient dietary support. It is a result of not eating enough of the right food. Malnutrition can damage a child’s immunity (like Bobe’s) or cause life threatening illnesses (like Aminu’s) especially children within the ages of 0 to 5 years. Malnutrition can also occur when too much of the wrong food is eaten by the child. Malnutrition can affect physical growth, lower intelligence quotient (IQ), creates deficiency problems as well as affect social skills of a child. Sadly, over 170 million children fall within that category and of that number, 2.5 million are Nigerian. It is more hurtful that only about 20 percent get the needed assistance. Asides poor nutrition, other causes of malnutrition includes poor maternal health, poverty, wars and conflicts which makes people to become IDPs. These conflicts have resulted in poor and unhygienic mothers fleeing to over-crowd Internally Displaced People (IDP) Camps with no choice but to depend on scares food supply since they cannot go back to their homes and farm lands. The COVID19 crises have further complicated the problem of malnutrition.
Bobe and Aminu are examples of both mild and acute cases of malnutrition that should not be ignored. Solutions to malnutrition cut across health, education, water, sanitation, food as well as protection of lives, properties and farmlands.
In line with the SDGs goal 3 (Good Health And Well-being), One Tribe Initiative is targeting IDP camps in Kaduna by making efforts like the supplementary feeding of Tom Brown meal to children in the IDP camps in Kaduna so as to reduce Malnutrition.
Tom Brown is a locally made pap powder with high nutritional value used in feeding babies in Nigeria. It’s made from a combination of cereals, peanuts and legumes like yellow corn, millet, guinea corn, groundnut and soybeans. It enriches and nourishes the body. It is a perfect choice for formula foods for babies to supply all essential nutrients. It serves as an energy booster with high fiber content that helps in reducing cholesterol and reduces constipation. It also provides the protein and minerals that help the body to fight against illnesses. It also enhances great vision and eye sights. It is easy to make and can be done at home from the scratch it is ready for consumption. Making it readily available in IDP camps will help to reduce the rate of malnutrition in Kaduna and its environs.
Kaduna as reported by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in June 2020 recorded 12,246 new cases of malnourished children. These numbers keep rising regularly. Rising new cases of malnutrition were recorded during the Coronavirus (COVID 19) lockdown within the state. Delivery of better nutrition to at risk children is very critical. You are encouraged to visit IDP camps, make donations, or contributions through bodies like http://onetribeinitiative.org.ng who are focused and committed to lending a helping hand to people of all race and religion. Little efforts like providing the grains or ingredients for the Tom Brown, financial assistance, logistics assistance or any kind of assistance is very essential in combating this malnutrition problem one child at a time.
Finally, every effort, every action, and every step towards addressing malnutrition will make a difference in a child’s life. Consider being a part of this, take action now because a life depends on it.