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UNICEF reports 2,000 stunted and 200,000 wasted children in Lagos

Over 2,000 children in Lagos State have stunted growth as a result of malnutrition, according to Ms. Ada Ezeogu, a nutrition specialist for UNICEF, who spoke on Saturday.

Because stunting has terrible effects on physical growth and cognitive development, Ezeogu stated that it was crucial to prevent the numbers from rising.
Stunting and wasting are health issues that develop on a child as a result of malnutrition, according to Ezeogu, who spoke during a media advocacy meeting organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA), Lagos, in conjunction with UNICEF.

The two-day programme, which featured a focus on COVAX and RI (Routine Immunization) Uptake in Lagos State, was held in the Patron Hotel in Lekki, Sangotedo, and was attended by no less than 50 media professionals.

He said: “Stunting affects not just physical growth but cognitive development. And stunting , once the effect of stunting has set in, it is irreversible and cannot be changed.
“That means, when a child is stunted, you can’t change that. That child is compromised in terms of height, physical development and cognitive development.


“So, you will not get the best from that child and that child will not achieve the full potential in life.

“Also, there are implications for onset of adult non-communicable diseases like diabetes, and a tendency for a stunted or malnourished child to have it later in life,” she said.

According to the specialist, stunting should be avoided as much as possible because it can have effects on children and adults alike.

“Once there is malnutrition, the child easily falls ill and the immune system is also compromised, and because of that, health cost increases because the child is taken more often to hospital and will be treated. do, there is health cost implication.


“Also, that child may also not be as good as one who is fully nourished in school and by implication, result in repetition of class. All these have economic impact in the economy and in the school system.

“So, if you have a child repeating or not paying attention fully or their attention span is reduced as a result of malnutrition then you have implication for the education system and the health system,” she said.

The rate of underweight children in Lagos, according to Ezeogu, is 6.4%, which is greater than the global target of less than 5%. This translates to around 200,000 kids, on average.

“Immediately a child is  screened and found to be severely malnourished, the child should be referred to a health centre.


“Fortunately, Lagos is already doing something with the management of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

“They are using the ready-to-use therapeutic food and if there are underlying conditions, they will be treated.

“We encourage mothers to take these children immediately to health facilities for attention because for wasting, if these children are not treated on time, we may lose them,” the specialist said.

Ezeogu, however, asserted that although the state did not have a designated SAM centre, some hospitals did have the intervention programme.


“I am aware that Massey Children Hospital has a ward where they treat children with SAM and they were trained to handle such cases,” she said.

The specialist encouraged the Lagos State Government to increase screening in order to identify these youngsters in the communities as well as to expand the number of health personnel who are trained to screen children.

“By so doing, there will be timely intervention and those children affected can be identified early enough and referred to a health care center,” she said.

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