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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 3  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 125-126

Climate change, seasonal malnutrition conflict, and health

Department of Haematology, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria, Nigeria

Date of Web Publication19-Sep-2016

Correspondence Address:
Aisha I Mamman
Department of Haematology, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/2384-5147.190840

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How to cite this article:
Mamman AI. Climate change, seasonal malnutrition conflict, and health. Sub-Saharan Afr J Med 2016;3:125-6

How to cite this URL:
Mamman AI. Climate change, seasonal malnutrition conflict, and health. Sub-Saharan Afr J Med [serial online] 2016 [cited 2023 May 31];3:125-6. Available from: https://www.ssajm.org/text.asp?2016/3/3/125/190840

The recession of the cold and dusty Harmattan wind in March marks the beginning of the hot, dry season when food stores are depleted, humidity is low, and the rains are far off. The Savannah belt is worst hit because of the long dry season. This period usually marks the onset of epidemics due to  Neisseria More Details meningitidis commonly called cerebrospinal or epidemic meningitis. These epidemics which used to occur in 7-10-year cycles were terminated by the onset of the rainy season. The development and use of conjugate vaccines have significantly reduced the severity of the epidemics.

Alas, the success obtained with vaccination against meningitis is not replicated in nutrition. This period is characterized by an onset of epidemic malnutrition in communities that are on the fringes of the Sahara desert. Deforestation and desertification further reduce access to plants that may supply micronutrients. Poverty, ignorance, and primitive agricultural practices limit crop yield which barely lasts till the following harvest. Seasonal food shortages result in malnutrition in all age groups, especially children < 5 years old and pregnant women resulting in stunting and underweight among children. Stunting, underweight, and wasting were observed in 37%, 29%, and 18%, respectively, of Nigerian children. [1] Extremes of malnutrition observed in mothers call for corrective efforts as each is a threat to societal health. The prevalence of undernutrition, anemia in pregnancy, and iron deficiency in women is 11%, [1] 12.2%, [2] and 75%, [2] respectively, which underscores the need for sustainable interventions on improving nutrition, considering that maternal nutrition is a determinant of infant and under-five nutrition which in turn determines child survival. Improvement in nutrition is dependent on the introduction of high-yield value adding varieties and measures that can prolong the shelf life of agricultural products with an all-year round assurance; while being mindful of the potentially harmful effects of some genetically modified foods and the ongoing Monsanto controversy. Maternal iron deficiency contributes to maternal morbidity and mortality in the form of antepartum, postpartum hemorrhage in addition to other forms of adverse obstetric outcomes. High parity with long-term micronutrient deficiency is commonly associated with neonatal morbidity with threatened under-five survival as mothers tend to suffer from maternal depletion syndrome. [3] Persons who suffer from malnutrition in early childhood are less likely to achieve optimal cognitive and intellectual potentials. This predisposes such children and adolescents to school refusal and truancy. The truant is a potential tool for conflict.

Obesity observed in 25% of women [1] is indicative of a future threat to the weak health system of Nigeria, as it relates to the care of persons with chronic noncommunicable diseases because obesity is a risk factor for diabetes mellitus and hypertension. [4] Mass education, lifestyle modification, and weight control are cheap and sustainable measures to control obesity.

Seasonal food shortage related to deforestation and desertification over the years has forced migration of communities and nations in search of arable land for better food yield. The resultant competition for water, pasture, and land has contributed to conflicts which aggravate the poor nutritional status of women and children. Instability caused by migration and conflict further limits access to health, especially pharmaceuticals and vaccines that are important determinant factors in child survival. Drought with attendant famine conflict and migration has caused sociopolitical instability and insurgency. These further worsen the economic fortunes of any nation.

The seasonal pattern of meningitis, severe acute malnutrition, calls for the establishment of a health observatory that predicts and acts on epidemics in a proactive manner with a view to reducing mortality, while improving the quality of life. Engaging partner sectors such as education, agriculture, and national planning will facilitate the formulation of long-term home-grown measures to reduce the burden of seasonal epidemics.

In addition, within this quarter is the special days such as the "World Health Day," "Hemophilia day," "International Day for Work safety and Health," "World No Tobacco Day," "World Milk Day," "Albinism day," "Blood donation day," and "Sickle Cell Day," are meant to address public health needs as well serve as a reminder on the plight of individuals with peculiar health challenges. Of all the days, World Blood Donation day is of strategic significance bearing in mind its theme, "Blood connects us all." This is in recognition of the invisible bond between the blood donor and recipient through blood donation. The recipient may be a chemotherapy-dependent lung cancer patient, an anemic sickle cell disease sufferer, or a victim of trauma, who is at the risk of exsanguination. The blood donor needs to be kept healthy through provision of a balanced diet on a sustainable basis in an environment devoid of conflict. Climate change, floods, and insecurity pose a perennial threat to the establishment of sustainable health systems that are community oriented, in compliance with the dictates of the primary health care philosophy. Therefore, there is an urgent include primary health care packages in interventions linked disaster relief, management of displaced persons and refugees.

  References Top

Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey 2013. Nutrition in Women and Children. Ch. 11. National Population Commission, Federal Republic of Nigeria, Abuja, Nigeria and ICF International Rockville, Maryland, USA; 2014. p. 175-99.  Back to cited text no. 1
Hassan A, Mamman AI, Adaji S, Musa BO, Kene TS. Anemia and iron deficiency in pregnant women in Zaria, Nigeria. Sub Saharan Afr J Med 2014;1:36-9.  Back to cited text no. 2
Winkvist A, Rasmussen K, Habicht JP. New definition of maternal depletion syndrome. Am J Public Health 1992;82:5.  Back to cited text no. 3


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