The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says good nutrition is beneficial to and achievable for all Nigerians.
Nkiruka Enwelum, Nutrition Officer, UNICEF, made the assertion on Thursday in Enugu at a two-day media dialogue on “Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as Child Rights,” while presenting a paper on “Child Malnutrition Situation in Nigeria: An Overview”.
According to Enwelum, some benefits of good nutrition include increase in school participation by one year, raise in adult wages by five to 50 per cent among others.
She said that the consequences of malnutrition include impaired brain development and lower Intelligence Quotient (IQ), low birth weight, weakened immune system leading to increase in infectious diseases and premature death.
She said that about 45 per cent of child deaths were linked to poor nutrition which mostly occur in low- and middle-income countries.
Enwelum said that forms of malnutrition in children included wasting, stunting and underweight, while underweight and overweight were visible forms in adults.
She said that malnutrition should be avoided at all costs through provision and eating of all classes of foods.
She added that failure to prevent and treat malnutrition could result in long term cognitive and growth impacts and loss of income for households and up to 15 percent Gross Domestic Product (GDP) loss for Nigeria.
In his presentation on ‘The SDGs as Child Rights’, Dr Chidi Ezinwa of the Department of Mass Communication, Enugu State University of Science and Technology, said that Nigeria was ranked 160th on the 2020 world’s SDG index from 159th in 2019.
According to him, SDGs cannot be realised without fulfilling the rights of children.
“SDGs are therefore rights to be fulfilled.
“The SDGs index above shows that many rights of children are yet to be fulfilled in Nigeria. Hence, Nigeria is far from realising the SDGs, ” he said.
He said that embedded in the SDGs included several rights of children to be fulfilled without which progress would not be made in achieving them.
He added that children were not just objects who belonged to their parents and for whom decisions were made or adults in training.
He said rather, they were human beings and individuals with their own rights.
Also, Dr Uche Anune, Training Coordinator, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), said that the media had a great role to play in ensuring the achievement of the goals, especially as they relate to children.
He charged media practitioners to write on relevant topics in a refreshing manner as possible.
“Fortunately, the Child’s Rights Act provides us with a wide range of topics and virtually immortal; girl child education, sanitation, health, access to clean water, and environment, among others.
“These are issues that confront us daily and news stories from these sectors will remain alive as long as these challenges persist.
“It is incumbent on us, journalists, to use our professional skills and tools to advance the rights of the child by stimulating relevant stakeholders to take action to safeguard those rights,” he said.
NAN reports that the Child’s Rights Act in Nigeria was adopted in 2003, giving legal consent to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child.
The law guarantees the rights of all children in Nigeria.
The Child’s Right Act (2003) defines children as persons under the age of 18.
The 17 SDGs focus on poverty, industrial innovation and infrastructure, zero hunger, good health and wellbeing, quality education, gender equality and clean water.
Others include sanitation, responsible production and consumption, peace and justice, strong institutions, climate action, affordable and clean energy, decent work and economic growth, and reduced inequality, among others. (NAN)