Malnutrition; CS-SUNN to establish nutrition clubs in schools in Enugu

March 29, 2021
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A Coalition of civil society organisations under the aegis, Civil Society- Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria, CS-SUNN, has said it would establish nutrition clubs in Enugu State schools as part of advocacy to mitigate rising cases of malnourished children in the state.

CS-SUNN which is concerned with raising awareness on the need to improve on nutrition to maintain healthy living in Nigeria, also is advocating for six months maternity leave to allow working mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children up to six months to mitigate the rising cases of malnourished children.

State Coordinator of CS-SUNN, Dr. Chuka Agunwa, who who disclosed this at a one day Media Engagement Programme on Nutrition Advocacy, Maternity Protection and Exclusive Breastfeeding on Sunday, said there was need that children be taught the need for adequate nutrition from their youth.

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While regretted that the nutrition in the state has not had significant improvement in the last decade, Agunwa said, the burden of malnutrition among under- five children remains high.

“Drivers of malnutrition in the state hinge on poverty, inadequate dietary intake, sub-optimal dietary diversity and care practices; poor socio-economic and cultural practices, recurring infections and diseases as well as the recent economic hardships imposed on people by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Consequences of malnutrition in Enugu State is worrisome as evidenced by 22,171 children acutely malnourished and 14,189 children severally acutely malnourished (NDHS, 2018). These data are expected to have increased within the last two years, especially with the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdowns which call for urgent action.”

He said as part of Enugu State Multisectoral Plan of Action for Food and Nutrition, 2020, CS-SUNN would set up the nutrition clubs in five public secondary schools for a pilot scheme.

According to him, lack of adequate nutrition was the cause of most deaths in the society.

“Malnutrition causes most deaths and sicknesses people suffer today,” Agunwa said.

Agunwa, said that the clubs when established would be meeting once in a month to “drive home the need for children to be aware of the importance for adequate nutrition to maintain a healthy living.”

He also lamented that the allocation for the health sector in Nigeria has been poor, pointing out that the World Health Organisation, WHO, had estimated that yearly budget for health should at least be 15% of the annual budget.

While he expressed joy that with CS-SUNN input in Enugu State, the state now has a five-year budget plan, adding that before now, Enugu did not have a definitive nutrition budget.

He opined that when the clubs become operational, sense of nutrition will be built in the students which will impact in their adult life.

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