Health  

2030: UNICEF Expresses Commitment To Reaching 350 Million Children, Women To Address Malnutrition 

By Sani Yarima 

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is dedicated to reaching at least 350 million children and women annually by 2030 to address the issue of malnutrition. 

Philomena Irene, the Nutrition Specialist of UNICEF in the Bauchi Field Office, shared this during a presentation at the Media Dialogue organized for 65 journalists in the northeast, held on Thursday, May 16th, 2024 at the Emerald Hill Hotel in Gombe State, Nigeria.

She mentioned that the dialogue aimed to share ideas and strategize on advocating for more government investment in preventing malnutrition and highlighting the young child nutrition indicators in the region. 

The discussion also aimed to understand the role of complementary feeding in child nutrition, as well as the Child Nutrition Fund established by UNICEF alongside some donors.

“We are committed to reaching at least 350 million children under the age of 5 years and women, particularly those who are pregnant or breastfeeding every year by 2030,” Irene stated.

Furthermore, Philomena Irene revealed that one out of every four children suffers from acute malnutrition, while four out of every child suffering from moderate malnutrition is likely to experience chronic malnutrition within a year. 

She also disclosed that the issue of chronic malnutrition has reached an alarming rate in Nigeria, pointing out that a total of 1.3 million children were treated in 2023, compared to 400,000 children treated in 2022. 

She emphasized that the number would continue to increase if urgent steps were not taken to prevent the menace.

According to the UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Bauchi State Field Office, Philomena Irene, UNICEF has redesigned its strategy by focusing more on prevention rather than the treatment of malnutrition cases, adding that the organization cannot do it alone. 

She urged the state governments in Nigeria to access the $3.4 billion Child Nutrition Funds (CNF) to address the problem of acute and chronic malnutrition prevalent across the nation.

She revealed that only four out of the thirty-six states of the federation had so far accessed the Fund. 

She explained that states are expected to contribute a minimum of 100 million naira as counterpart funds, which would be matched by the CNF, noting that it could be more than that.

Meanwhile, participants are expected to go on a field trip to some Primary Health Centers (PHCs) in Kaltungo LGA of Gombe State and also focus on key issues, as well as in-depth reporting in their various states.

Finally, the UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Bauchi Field Office, Philomena Irene, also spoke on the topic “Improving Young Children’s Diets during the Complementary Feeding period of six to twenty-three (6-23) months” and highlighted eight recommended food groups, including breast milk, grains, roots, tubers, and plantains, beans, peas, nuts, and seeds, among others.

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