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What do the children in Nigeria suffer from?

By: Dawn Harrington

Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa with an estimated 140 million people. Nearly half of the nations population (more than 68 million) is composed of children. 5.8 million babies are born a year.

Poverty in Nigeria has a negative impact on the lives of Nigerian children creating widespread malnutrition, sickness and disease, and child labor.

Children are at high risk of early death due to inadequate sewage systems, lack of clean water, and sadly underprovided health services. Nigeria has the lowest per capita health budget in Africa, and as a result most children do not get proper health care.

One out of 5 children die before the age of 5 due to deadly infections/diseases.

Malnutrition is the principal cause of death for Nigerian children. Six million children are undernourished. Many of them suffer from moderate or acute dietary deficiencies. Some factors that give rise to the acute malnutrition include scarce rain resulting in poor harvest, displacement of people and disruption of food production due to conflicts and violence and structural poverty in the region.

Cholera is an acute intestinal infection picked up through contaminated food or water. It results in diarrhea that leads to dehydration and even death. In 2010, it was estimated that 194,000 children in Nigeria died from diarrhea. This figure was the second highest in the world.

Pneumonia is an acute or chronic disease marked by inflammation of the lungs and caused by viruses, bacteria, or other microorganisms and sometimes by physical and chemical irritants.
90,000 children die yearly from Pneumonia in Nigeria. There are 56 million episodes of lung infection among Nigerian children yearly.

In 2010, the nongovernmental organization Doctors Without Borders discovered that 90% of the children age 5 and under in the Nigeria state of Zamfara (population 3.6 million) had lead poisoning. Professor Abdulsalam Nasidi, director of Nigeria Centre for Disease Control stated that a survey was done in Zamfara in 2012. It revealed that 85% of their soil had lead contamination. It was spread through heavy rainfalls.
Illegal mining operations in Northern Nigeria recently fed lead to refine gold ore, horrendously contaminating both the ground and the water. 96% of consumer paints in all of Nigeria contain higher than the recommended levels of lead.

Lead Poisoning

In 2012, in Zamfara, 400 children died from lead poisoning and many more had brain injuries. The children working in the mines were those who were infected.

Aids is an infectious disease of the immune system caused by a human

Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV). It is transmitted through bodily secretions and blood. In December of 2012, the National Agency for the Control of AIDS (NACA) estimated that no fewer than 3.6 million Nigerians are currently living with HIV/Aids and that 2.5 million children have been orphaned by HIV/Aids. This makes Nigeria the country with the greatest number of such children worldwide.

Child Labor/Trafficking An estimated 15 million Nigerian children work of this big number. 6 million are not in school and 2 million are exposed to work very long hours under hazardous conditions and sometimes without pay. Because of Poverty and a cultural acceptance and even expectation that children work as domestic workers. Children work as domestic workers, street hawkers, vendors, beggars, scavengers, as well as on plantations and in the mining and quarrying sector. Child Labor interferes with their education and endangers their health. Increasing poverty is pushing millions of children into dangerous exploitative work, including sex trafficking.

Children as young as 4 or 5 years old are sometimes taken into families as domestic helpers because their parents are too poor or in debt. These children are vulnerable to sexual/ physical abuse and exploitation. When ill treated they are likely to run away and end up in the streets.
10 children daily are sold and bought for purposed of prostitution. These children are usually physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually abused; plain torture. There is a large number of young girls who will give birth and then sell their children. This sort of trafficking is on the rise in Nigeria as well as Africa as a whole.