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Child marriage, mortality rate drop in Kano ― UNICEF

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The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has said that child marriage (women married before age 18) has reduced from 44 per cent to 30 per cent in Kano state since 2016 to date.

This was just as the Kano State Secretary to the Government (SSG) Alhaji Usman Alhaji has tasked the nutritionists to produce locally processed baby food as complementary feeding, for healthy growth and development.

UNICEF Chief, Kano field office, Mr Rahama Rihood Mohammed Farah, who disclosed this on Sunday at the launch of the 2021 Kano state Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey(MICS 2021) explained that Child mortality decreased from 1 in 8 children dying before their fifth birthday (MICS 2016) to 1 in 10 children (MICS 2021).

Speaking on behalf of the UNICEF Senior Education Specialist, Mr Michael Banda stated that the state recorded an increase in exclusive breastfeeding from 24 per cent to 34 per cent, while nearly 60 per cent of Nigerian children are now registered at birth with civil authorities, compared to 47 per cent in 2016.

He further disclosed that Nigeria’s child mortality decreased from 1 in 8 children dying before their fifth birthday (MICS 2016) to 1 in 10 children (MICS 2021).

In Education, about seven out of every ten children (68%) of the right primary school age children are attending school or higher, while about five out of every 10 (50%) of senior secondary school age are attending secondary school or higher.

UNICEF however noted that “there are pockets of deprivations that are getting worse and need for our urgent collective effort and response.

“We must question the status quo, and examine what has been our actions and inactions and their consequences on our collective development in Health, Nutrition, Education, Social Protection, WASH child protection and other social sectors to be elucidated in the presentations.”

Farah maintained “The data provided does not provide us with a causality analysis but gives us a general trend to weigh our performance over years. We, therefore, need to examine factors behind our performance, be it positive or negative and find workable solutions to improve the various indices.”

He then charged the stakeholders to “identify and address, the underlying causes for poor performing indicators. Investigative qualitative studies should complement the MICS results and provide us with a strong case for deciding our actions.

“Our actions or inaction will also be reflected in the next MICS in four years’ time from now, therefore, it’s time we pulled up our sleeves and got to work!”

Speaking on the occasion, SSG Usman Alhaji stated that nutritionists have a vital role to play, by producing nutritious local food, and guiding mothers on how to feed their children at household and community levels.

He explained that the relevance of establishing four new emirate councils in Kano, cannot be overemphasized, as each emirate engages its citizens in health, education, nutrition, child and social protection, empowerment, sanitation and other relevant indices to move the community forward.

“It is also good that there are representatives of different sectors of the society here, whose responsibility is to ensure that action is taken after the review, the figures should not gather dust, and the bureau of statistics should make data available to the public.”

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