By Philip Yatai
Kaduna – UNICEF and Kaduna State Government says no fewer than 279,542 children under five years are suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in Kaduna State.
UNICEF’s Chief of Nutrition, Mr Simeon Nanama, said that SAM children are 12 times more likely to die than healthy children if not treated.
“We are already mobilising resources and providing technical support in the treatment of the affected children and we will continue to do more to ensure that every affected child gets access to treatment,” Nanama said.
UNICEF and Children Investment Foundation Fund (CIFF) had recently pledged to support the government to treat the affected children.
Mr Oguntade Dare, an official of the Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN), said during a media engagement in Kaduna on Saturday, that it would cost N52,000 to treat a child amounting to N14.536 billion.
The engagement was organised by SC-SUNN to update journalists working around malnutrition in Kaduna State on the Partnership for Improving Nigeria Nutrition System (PINNS).
CS-SUNN Executive Secretary, Mrs Beatrice Aluaka, commended the Kaduna State Government for releasing more than N980 million for nutrition interventions in 2017 with focus on curative.
Aluaka also said that data from the CS-SUNN scorecard in 2016 shows that Kaduna State achieved 63 per cent in the implementation of the National Strategic Action for Nutrition (NSPAN).
“However, available statistics indicates a rising trend in the state’s malnutrition burden, a major contributor to infant and maternal mortality and morbidity in the state.
“The Multiple Cluster Survey, 2017 indicates that 40 per cent of children under five years are suffering from chronic malnutrition and 34 per cent are underweight.
“The survey also shows that 11 per cent of the children are suffering from acute malnutrition,” she added.
She described the situation as critical, adding that acceptable percentage of chronic malnutrition (stunting) was less than 20 per cent, acute malnutrition (wasting) less than five per cent and underweight 10 per cent.
She lauded the state’s Emergency Nutrition Action Plan (KADENAP), chaired by the wife of the state governor, Hajiya Ummi El-Rufa’I for taking concrete actions toward reversing the disturbing indices.
Aluaka nonetheless called on the state government to finalise the state’s National Multi-sectoral Plan of Action for Nutrition and improve implementation of existing nutrition plans.
“We also urge the government to increase funding allocation for nutrition and ensure timely releases of funds, as well as efficient utilisation of nutrition resources.
“The government needs to also focus on preventive interventions such as promoting optimal infant and young child feeding, staple food fortification and maternal nutrition programmes.
“We equally appealed to the state government to extend maternity leave to six months and establish crèches in work places to promote practice of exclusive and optimal breastfeeding among working class mothers.
“We also called for massive awareness campaign to educate mothers on appropriate infant and young child feeding practices and dietary diversification, particularly among rural women,” she said.
The executive secretary also urged the media to step up reportage of nutrition issues to attract policy makers and concerned stakeholders to take the right steps towards curbing malnutrition.
The state’s Nutrition Officer, Hajiya Hauwa Usman, told NAN that community management of acute malnutrition was being implemented in 27 sites across the state, adding that more sites are being establish.
“Nonetheless, 279,542 affected children are large number that need access to treatment,” Usman said.
Earlier, CS-SUNN Communication Officer, Mrs Lilian Ajah-Mong, explained that the PINN project was designed to strengthen Nigerian nutrition system to be more result-driven, effective, serviceable, efficient and transparent.
“The focus is on delivering of government mandates and ensuring accountability of commitments made towards allocations, release and transparent usage of implementation funds,” she said. (NAN)