A young child suffering from severe malnutrition lies on a bed in the ICU ward at the In-Patient Therapeutic Feeding Centre in the Gwangwe district of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, northeastern Nigeria. / AFP / STEFAN HEUNIS (Photo credit should read STEFAN HEUNIS/AFP/Getty Images)
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said that malnutrition is the biggest threat to child “survival and development” in the North East.
The Chief Field Officer, Maiduguri, Samuel Sesay, raised the alarm, yesterday, at a three-day Media Dialogue on Child Malnutrition Reporting in Maiduguri, Borno State.
According to him, malnutrition is the underlying cause of about 50 per cent of all deaths among under-five children globally.
Malnutrition, he added, is the biggest threat to child survival and development in insurgency-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
“Households in the region are experiencing unprecedented levels of food crisis and hunger,” he lamented. Sesay noted that poor feeding environment, hygiene and health services contributed to under-nutrition in children.
He added that the destruction of basic infrastructure and services, climate change and the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) contributed to the growing number of children affected by under-nutrition.
“It is unacceptable that children continue to bear the greatest burden of conflict, climate change and COVID-19,” he lamented, insisting that ensuring good nutrition in children would help families and the nation to grow.
MEANWHILE, the Kaduna State Government has approved the release of N500 million for the procurement of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for the treatment of acute malnutrition.
The Project Manager, Kaduna State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan (KADENAP), Mr. Umar Bambale, made this known in Kaduna, yesterday, at the Nutrition Partners’ Second Quarter Coordination and Review Meeting.
Bambale said the amount had been approved within the second quarter, adding that KADENAP was awaiting the release of the fund to finalise the procurement process.x
He added that the government had also released N134 million within the quarter to KADENAP for the implementation of nutrition programmes.
Explaining that the RUTF was an energy-dense, mineral- and vitamin-enriched food, specifically designed to treat severe acute malnourished children, he disclosed that the number of new admissions of severe acute malnourished children at the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) sites increased from 2,796 in the first quarter to 8,157 in the second quarter.
The project manager also said the number of children treated increased from 2,730 in the first quarter to 4,631 in the second quarter due to the availability of RUTF at CMAM centres.
The Director, Development Aid Coordination, Planning and Budget Commission, Mr Salisu Baba, said the government was working with development partners to optimise utilisation of resources.
The State Coordinator, Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), Ms Jessica Bartholomew, reiterated the group’s commitment to its advocacy for improved nutrition funding and utilisation.