Western Sydney University, Australia
Title: Socioeconomic inequalities in childhood undernutrition in Nigeria
Biography: Blessing J. Akombi
Background: Undernutrition is the underlying cause of child morbidity and mortality in Nigeria, accounting for more than 50 per cent of deaths among under-five year old children. This study examined socioeconomic-related inequalities in child undernutrition in Nigeria using the decomposition approach.
Methods: The study analysed data from the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2003 to 2013. Trends in child undernutrition were examined against socioeconomic factors. The outcome variables were stunting (HAZ<-2SD), wasting (WHZ<–2 SD) and underweight (WAZ<–2 SD) among children 0-59 months. The magnitude of child undernutrition was estimated via a concentration index, and the inequality was decomposed to ascertain the contribution of socioeconomic factors to child undernutrition over time.
Results: Socioeconomic inequality in child undernutrition increased between 2003 and 2013. The decomposition of the concentration index showed that the consistent contributing factors to the increase in socio-economic inequalities in child undernutrition were: child’s age (0 – 23 months), maternal education (no education), household wealth index (poorest household), type of residence (rural) and geopolitical zone (North East, North West).
Conclusions: This result suggests the need for a multifaceted nutrition intervention that involves improving maternal education and the adoption of social protection policies, to reduce inequalities in child undernutrition especially among socioeconomically disadvantaged groups in Nigeria. This would set the country on its path to achieving the post-2015 sustainable development goals of improving children’s health.