By Chimezie Godfrey
The Media Centre Against Child Malnutrition (MeCAM Nigeria), has called on parents and guardians to stop exposing their children in order to prevent them from contracting the deadly coronovirus disease.
In a statement on Friday, the National Coordinator, MeCAM, Remmy Nweke, made the call following evidences of lack of adherence to the lockdown order by most children.
According the National Coordinator, the counsel became pertinent following outcome of investigations and monitoring by the group on adherences by adults and families since the commencement of COVID-19 lockdown in Lagos State, Federal Capital Territory (FCT) and Ogun State, by the Federal government.
Nweke explained that malnourished children are those under 5 suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), largely caused by significant imbalance between nutritional intake and individual needs, adding that Nigeria currently has over 2 million children in this category, according to UNICEF.
He noted with dismay that some adults and parents in the name of strolling for exercise, take walk with their children, without realizing the weight of danger they are putting such children to by mere exposure on the streets.
He disclosed that the group also gathered that in some instances, mothers have to back their children of less than five (5) years to the markets during the shopping windows of 10am through 2pm for open markets and 10am to 4pm for shopping malls in closed communities like estates, as allowed by the Presidential Task Force on COVID-19.
The National Coordinator noted that these little actions as it may seem are putting children in danger, particularly now that many families are yearning for palliatives and nutrition meals at the same time.
He revealed that the effect of this is that more families are being exposed and for already malnourished children the situation spells double tragedy.
Nweke pointed out that once any child is affected, it is no longer only that child that is sick as the mother from what we know would not afford to leave her child to just die without attempts which does not preclude extreme contacts, at this era of social distancing.
He stressed that there is the possibility of having more malnourished people in the country at the end of this scourge if families do not get cautious of these situations and on what they consume as food.
“Nigerians should ensure they eat right and follow simple nutritious plans for their families in line with available economic powers.
“Parents who really love their families, should stop exposing these children and stay indoors as well, while sticking to all guidelines by the authorities including frequent washing of hands with soap and application of hand sanitisers where washing of hands becomes difficult.
“Parents should assist their children at this time with school home works no matter their conditions and show love to children who may be suffering malnutrition as they need to place them on special meal like the Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF),” Nweke said.
He also urged the government to make arrangement to ensure that malnourished children and mothers receive special attention at this time whenever palliatives are being distributed to communities.