Osa Isokpunwu, head of nutrition at ministry of health, said this in Kano at a workshop organised by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Isokpunwu, represented by Tokunbo Farayibi, principal officer at the ministry, said the statistic makes Nigeria the second worst country in terms of deaths by malnutrition.
India is the only country with higher malnutrition statistics.
He listed key malnutrition problems to include poor feeding practices, deficiencies in energy, protein, vitamin, iron and iodine deficiency as well as anaemia.
“The immediate causes of malnutrition are inadequate food intake, lack of diversity, infectious diseases,” he said.
Isokpunwu said the underlying drivers of malnutrition are food insecurity, inadequate child and maternal care, poor access to health services and unhealthy environment.
According to Isokpunwu, the basic drivers are poverty, population, failure in governance and gender inequality.
Other factors include internally displaced persons, epidemics, cholera, ebola and natural disasters
Also speaking at the workshop was Geoffrey Njoku, UNICEF’s communication specialist, who said nutrition is central to child survival and then development.
He spoke about a 1000-day window from birth to ensure a child is nourished with essential nutrients, after which the child will most probably face a bleak life as the brain will not fully develop.
“The damage is almost irreversible…, a malnourished child will earn 30% less salary (than a nourished child),” Njoku said.
He said children with “stunted growth might never reach full development,” adding that more that a third of all Nigerian children are stunted”.
Njoku described malnutrition as a national problem that contributes to child mortality.