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Children get a school meal in Ogun State

500,000 Nigerian children die yearly of malnutrition – Unicef

The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has stated that 500,000 Nigerian children die every year from malnutrition and described this as a silent health crisis.

Unicef said at a two-day workshop called “Stop Child Malnutrition in Nigeria” in Calabar, capital of Cross River State, that drastic action was required to stop malnutrition killing so many Nigerian children. The majority of malnourished children are in northern Nigeria.

After the workshop, Taiwo Akinlami, a consultant to Unicef on child protection, told TVC News that it was time that Nigerians started holding governments to account. Nigerian rulers swore to uphold the constitution when they took office. The constitution states that “the security and welfare of the people shall be the primary purpose of government.”

So many Nigerian children shouldn’t be dying every year if governments were fulfilling their constitutional obligations. The constitution also has the following provisions: “the material resources of the nation are harnessed and distributed as best as possible to serve the common good.” It also holds that: “suitable and adequate shelter, suitable and adequate food, reasonable national minimum living wage, old age care and pensions, and unemployment, sick benefits and welfare of the disabled are provided for all citizens.”

Other provisions include: “children, young persons and the aged are protected against any exploitation whatsoever, and against moral and material neglect” and “provision is made for public assistance in deserving cases or other conditions of need”.

500,000 infants dying malnutrition every year means a collective failure of local, state and federal governments to do their jobs. It is about time that Nigerians decided enough is enough. No Nigerian child should die from malnutrition in a country in which access to government funds is producing millionaires yearly.

The new government of President Muhammadu Buhari promised during the campaign to pay poor Nigerians 5,000 naira monthly and provide free school meals for children in public schools. These steps would help in reducing child malnutrition. It is time for them to act to prevent further deaths of Nigerian children.

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