I was in class yesterday teaching a topic on the nutrition situation in Nigeria and as I discussed with my students I got really sad. The staggering statistics of people who are undernourished in Nigeria (millions); young and old got me sad afresh right there in class. I was already sad about it before my class but having to talk about it in a way triggered some emotions in me.
And I can tell you for free that the statistics about malnutrition out there couldn’t be accurate because of our data capture culture in this country. I am positive that the people that are malnourished in Nigeria are more than what is being claimed. I just couldn’t talk about it to my stidents without my emotions welling up.
I analysed to them what a low-income earner in Nigeria can afford to eat. I put into perspective for them how some people earn much less than what each of them get as pocket money from their parents monthly and how that income is what some families rely on to foot ALL their bills – feeding, rent, clothing, transportation, Children’s school fees, etc. The minimum amount of money that any of my students receives monthly is the minimum wage in Nigeria and that is just based on their monthly feeding cost.
No wonder the rate of malnutrition is practically on the rise. Many people can’t afford to eat what they need to stay healthy. Many people only eat what they can afford; so-called food that can only meet their energy needs but which can’t meet their basic needs for the more essential nutrients.
It is obvious that many people are going around looking all energetic but they are getting less essential nutrients than what their bodies need for health.
On several occasions, I have seen hungry looking pregnant women and that ticks me off completely. I just can’t stand the sight.
On some of these occasions I was in a moving vehicle so I couldn’t do anything practical. For those of them that I had access to, I took the decision to buy them foods / provisions that can boost their nutrition. I bought them myself; I wouldn’t give them money to go and buy those things because I know that they might not use the money for what I want them to use it for. I don’t forget to educate them about the need for proper nutrition during pregnancy too.
I hope you know that someone can look healthy and not be healthy in the real sense of it. But when the signs of malnutrition are that visible in a pregnant woman, there is real problem. My major point of concern is the babies they carry in their wombs.
These women can’t give to their children what they do not have. If they don’t feed well, the babies can’t get the appropriate nutrients for their development.
In case you didn’t know, the first 1000 days of life of a human being are very critical (starting from conception). This thus brings into perspective the fact that while these infants (under two years) can’t benefit from school feeding programmes during the most critical window of their lives.
The kind of nutrition that a baby gets within the first few weeks of life can affect so much. If a fetus does not get the right nutrition right from conception, permanent damage can be made to his/her brain; for starters. Once the mother does not get adequate nutrition, the brain of the child may not develop normally. And that is just one aspect of health that can be affected by malnutrition. There are both short-term and long-term consequences of infants not getting adequate nutrition. The knowledge of this makes me concerned for the younger generations.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), malnutrition is estimated to contribute to more than one-third of all children’s deaths, although it is rarely listed as the direct cause. Lack of access to highly nutritious foods, especially in the present context of rising food prices, is a common cause of malnutrition. Poor feeding practices, such as inadequate breastfeeding, offering the wrong foods, and not ensuring that the child gets enough nutritious food, contribute to malnutrition. Infection, particularly frequent or persistent diarrhoea, pneumonia, measles and malaria, also undermine a child’s nutritional status.
Malnutrition takes a downward troll on the immunity of humans and obviously reduces the ability of the body to fight diseases.
Children who do not get appropriate nutrition won’t grow like they should, making them either stunted or wasted, and that is a short-term effect of malnutrition. And in actual fact, these children may never be able to regain their lost growth potential if malnutrition persists.
But what about the long-term effects which usually stem from the short-term effects?
And one major culprit of the sad state of people’s nutrition in our country is Ogbeni Poverty. 😔
The poverty rate in Nigeria saddens my heart. The struggle is real. Just take a look at the prices of our staple foods… See how our dear rice has suddenly become a rich man’s food.
I had months of interaction with several malnourished children while undertaking a research and my data proved that poverty played a huge role in malnutrition. All the parents of the children I worked with were low-income earners.
I provided a special diet for these infants and they all recuperated. The joy and sense of satisfaction displayed by the parents after the treatment period was everything to me. No drugs, just proper nutrition did the trick.
The state of nutrition of people in Nigeria is deplorable and this is a call for concern.
I have carried this burden for years and I hope to start something that I have had in my mind soon under the umbrella of our Foundation by the grace of God. And I hope to get people who share this burden to join us in this course when the time comes so that we can make greater impact.
Well, I mobilised my students to pray for Nigeria. Seriously, Nigeria needs all the prayers she can get at this time.
I ended up talking to them about gratitude too.
I don’t just teach my profession to my students, I always get the opportunity to impact them with life lessons and I try to utilize the opportunity well ☺
Like I told my students, if you are privileged to be able to eat right as often as you can or at all times, kindly remember those who can’t afford to by giving to them and in prayers.
– OMOSEBI Mary Omolola, PhD
Picture source: Internet