Jibrin Musa’s health took a turn for the worse when he was just seven months old. His mother rushed him to the Gundale Ward Primary Health Care (PHC) facility in the Shongom LGA of Gombe State, where she explained to the health worker that her child had been experiencing watery stools for over a week. Despite trying traditional remedies recommended by her mother-in-law, Jibrin’s condition only worsened. He refused to eat, grew weaker, and eventually fainted, leaving his mother desperate for help.
As it happened, the health worker on duty at the PHC was an NHED-ANRiN service provider who quickly attended to Jibrin and enrolled him in the program. The service provider administered the Zinc/ORS supplements and other vitamin treatments to Jibrin, who slowly started to recover.
Jibrin’s mother was overjoyed to report that within a few hours of taking the prescribed dose of ORS, her child’s frequent stools stopped. She had never seen such a condition resolve so quickly, and she was grateful to the NHED-ANRiN service provider for their timely intervention. The mother acknowledged that the programme had given Jibrin a new lease on life, and she was relieved to see her child healthy and happy again.
A 2018 Nigeria Demography and Health Survey stated that malnutrition is largely concentrated in Nigeria’s northern states malnutrition.
Buttressing this further, a UNICEF report noted that, “The States in northern Nigeria are the most affected by the two forms of malnutrition – stunting and wasting. High rates of malnutrition pose significant public health and development challenges for the country. Stunting, in addition to an increased risk of death, is also linked to poor cognitive development, a lowered performance in education and low productivity in adulthood – all contributing to economic losses estimated to account for as much as 11 percent of Gross Domestic Product (GDP).”
At the individual level, malnutrition leads to impaired physical development, noted a 2021 article in Conversation Africa. According to it, malnutrition “has long-term effects on cognitive development, educational performance and economic productivity in adulthood and on maternal reproductive outcomes. Malnutrition also weakens the immune system. It results in a higher risk of severe infectious diseases, including diarrhoea and pneumonia.”
The main underlying causes of wasting include poor access to appropriate healthcare, lack of food security, inappropriate feeding practices, among others, noted the US National Library of Medicine. These issues lead to further medical complications, not only in children under five, but also in pregnant mothers and resultant adverse effects on their families.