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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Malnutrition imminent as food costs surge 10.98% in three months

The cost of a healthy diet in Nigeria has risen by 10.98 per cent between February and May 2024, from N938 to N1,041 per adult, daily.

This increase has made nutritious food less accessible to many Nigerians, especially the vulnerable.

In June, the Médecins Sans Frontières, also known as Doctors Without Borders, raised an alarm that its inpatient facilities in northern Nigeria recorded an extraordinary increase in admissions of severely malnourished children with life-threatening complications, exceeding last year’s figures by over 100 per cent in some locations.

MSF said this is an alarming indication of a premature peak of the lean season and the increase in acute malnutrition that accompanies it, typically anticipated in July.

The MSF’s Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Simba Tirima said, “We are resorting to treating patients on mattresses on the floor because our facilities are full. Children are dying. If immediate action is not taken, more lives hang in the balance. Everyone needs to step in to save lives and allow the children of northern Nigeria to grow free from malnutrition and its disastrous long-term, if not fatal, consequences.”

AUTHORITIES MUST take immediate action to diagnose and treat malnourished children to prevent associated complications and deaths

MSF called on the Nigerian authorities, international organisations, and donors to take immediate action to diagnose and treat malnourished children to prevent associated complications and deaths and engage in sustained, long-term initiatives to mitigate the underlying causes of this urgent problem.

“We’ve been warning about the worsening malnutrition crisis for the last two years. 2022 and 2023 were already critical, but an even grimmer picture is unfolding in 2024. We can’t keep repeating these catastrophic scenarios year after year. What will it take to make everyone take notice and act?” added Dr. Tirima.

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Meanwhile, the CoHD, a benchmark for physical and economic access to healthy diets, has risen steadily over the past year, with a 118.8 per cent increase from December 2022 to April 2024.

Regional disparities are significant, with the South West recording the highest average cost at N1,406 per adult per day, and the North West having the lowest at N781 per adult per day.

high food cost trend indicates a worrying decline in the affordability of healthy food options, which could have severe implications for public health

Experts warn that this trend indicates a worrying decline in the affordability of healthy food options, which could have severe implications for public health. The rising CoHD has significant implications for preventing malnutrition, chronic diseases, and other diet-related health issues.

The surge in food prices has raised concerns among citizens, with some attributing it to a decline in agricultural productivity and supply chain issues. However, agricultural experts believe that some of the inflation in food prices is “unjustified” and can be controlled through regulations.

Prioritizing initiatives that promote sustainable agriculture, support local food systems, and enhance economic opportunities for farmers and food producers is essential

To address this issue, experts emphasize the need for policies and interventions that promote farmers’ adaptability to climate change, improve food availability, affordability, and accessibility, particularly for vulnerable populations.

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Prioritizing initiatives that promote sustainable agriculture, support local food systems, and enhance economic opportunities for farmers and food producers is essential to ensure that all Nigerians have access to healthy and affordable food.

Nigeria has faced significant economic challenges in recent years, including inflation, currency fluctuations, and declining agricultural productivity. These challenges have impacted the availability and affordability of healthy food options, particularly for vulnerable populations.

National challenges have impacted the availability and affordability of healthy food options, particularly for vulnerable populations

The rising CoHD has significant implications for public health in Nigeria. Malnutrition, chronic diseases, and other diet-related health issues are significant concerns in the country. The surge in food prices has raised concerns among citizens, with some attributing it to a decline in agricultural productivity and supply chain issues.

The need for urgent action to address the decline in the affordability of healthy food options in Nigeria cannot be overstated.

The government and stakeholders must prioritize initiatives that promote sustainable agriculture, support local food systems, and enhance economic opportunities for farmers and food producers to ensure that all Nigerians have access to healthy and affordable food.

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