Malnutrition: ISMPH Tasks Media Practitioners On Good Nutritional Benefits Reportage 

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The executive director, International Society for Media in Public Health, Mrs. Moji Makanjuola.
The executive director, International Society for Media in Public Health, Mrs. Moji Makanjuola.

The International Society for Media in Public Health (ISMPH) has called on media practitioners to make a positive difference by advocating and harping on good nutrition and its benefits in ending malnutrition in the country. 

The ISMPH executive director, Mrs. Moji Makanjuola, made the call on the sideline of a media parley on severe acute malnutrition (SAM) organised by ISMPH today (September 13, 2022) in Abuja.

Makanjuola said that the media can reach out to communities with their reportage and empower them on the need to prevent causes of undernutrition, like diarrhoea, malaria, poor infant feeding practices and poor hygiene practices.

“Advocating correct health and nutrition behaviour, such as promotion of breastfeeding, hand washing practices, use of toilets and consumption of safe drinking water,” she said. 

She said that the media parley organised by the ISMPH with the support of the European Union Agent of Citizen Driven Transformation Programme (EU-ACT), was to highlight the role of the media to end malnutrition in the country.

“The central purpose of this parley is to drive conversations on the issues of SAM in Nigeria, re-emphasise the strategic role the media plays in its reduction and seek their support in our quest to combat it.

“According to UNICEF, malnutrition is a direct or underlying cause of 45 per cent of all deaths of children under the age of five. Nigeria has the second highest burden of stunted children in the world, with a national prevalence rate of 32 per cent of children under five. 

“An estimated 2 million children in Nigeria suffer from SAM, but only two out of every 10 children affected is currently reached with treatment. Seven per cent of women of child-bearing age also suffer from acute malnutrition,” she said. 

Makanjuola said that according to a joint statement by WHO and UNICEF, a child with severe acute malnutrition was nine-fold more likely to die than one without. 

“You will agree with me that these are disheartening figures especially as we consider that children below four make up about 8-8.2 per cent of the national population.  

“ISMPH has undertaken to work specifically to combat this epidemic in northern Nigeria. 

“Under the project funded by the Children Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), ISMPH utilised the media to emphasize the budgetary inadequacies in nutrition and to demand accountability for duty bearers,” she explained. 

Makanjuola, however, said it was realised early that for true impact, the solutions proffered to the issue of malnutrition must be well-rounded and innovative.  

“While, calling for improved policies and systems, we must also focus on providing sustainable solutions at the grassroots where malnutrition is most prevalent.

“Through our latest intervention ISMPH has observed that malnutrition is spurred by poverty, cultural myths about child care and deficiency in knowledge about healthy food mix by poor and vulnerable mothers,” she said. 

According to her, the media has an extremely powerful and challenging role to play when it comes to disseminating information to the disadvantaged and vulnerable sections with lower levels of education and higher levels of undernutrition amongst children and women.

She said that this was why ISMPH were excited to implement a project which directly responds to these drivers of SAM through the strategic economic empowerment of mothers of vulnerable children.

“At all points in our interventions, ISMPH has leveraged its cordial relationship with the media. 

“We are hopeful that the media will continue to join us in this laudable goal by creating awareness and initiating a discourse on SAM in the Federal Capital Territory and demanding that the existing laws and policies on child nutrition are implemented to the letter.” 

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