CSOs meet political parties on tackling severe acute malnutrition

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Civil Society Organisations (CSOs)

By Taiye Agbaje

Abuja – Leaders of some Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and political parties, on Wednesday, met in Abuja to tackle Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) faced by some under five children in Nigeria.

The high-level dialogue session, organised by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), was aimed at seeing how political parties can influence the operationalisation of an effective primary healthcare that would ensure the prevention and treatment of SAM in the country.

Mr Auwal Musa-Rafsanjani, Executive Director, CISLAC, expressed concern that annually, about 2.6 million Nigerian children under-five suffer from SAM.

“This dialogue provides the platform to harness commitments and discuss a common problem that has annually made 2.6 million Nigerian children under- five suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition.

‘’It also exposes 520,000 of them to early death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria.

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‘’You will agree with me that these indices are unfavourable and unacceptable,” he said.

Musa-Rafsanjani, who was represented by CISLAC board member, Hajia Hadiza Kangiwa, noted that political parties played big role in influencing policy implementation and development.

‘’The National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS) 2018 shows that the highest prevalence of global acute malnutrition based on Middle Upper Arm circumference (MUAC) was reported in Zamfara 10.3 per cent.

‘’It was followed by Katsina with 8.5 per cent and Sokoto with 8. Per cent, while the lowest was recorded in Imo with 0. 8 per cent, followed by Anambra with 1.3 per cent and Bayelsa with 1.9 per cent.

‘’Delta followed with 2 per cent with zero percent Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) with very little variability; Kaduna with 2.4 per cent, Jigawa 2.1 per cent, Katsina, Sokoto and Yobe 2 per cent recorded the highest SAM rates.”

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He said CISLAC, in the last quarter of 2018, had series of engagement with the executives, legislators, CSOs and the media at state and national levels to advocate for increase budgetary allocation, accountability and transparency for nutrition in Northern Nigeria.

‘’These efforts recorded some tremendous commitments at state levels, with states like Bauchi releasing the sum of N108 million, Katsina N250 million, Kaduna N200 million, and Nasarawa N10 million for the procurement of RUTF.

‘’And recently, the Federal Ministry of Health released the sum of N1.2 billion (beyond the budget of N400 million).

‘’Gombe state released N70 million and Niger state N20 million (from N1.2 billion) for the procurement of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).

‘’However, we urge states like Sokoto and Kano to make releases what they committed to make,” he said.

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National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council Nigeria (IPAC), Chief Peter Ameh, who spoke on behalf of leaders of political parties, corroborated that political parties needed to be carried along if the project was to succeed.

‘’Nothing works unless political parties are involved because there is no government without a political party. The only way to governance in Nigeria of today is through political parties,” he said.

He attributed the problem of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in the country to the collapse of local government system.

‘’The major issue we have with malnutrition in Nigeria is that we are looking outside the box without looking at the fundamental issues that are responsible for non-functionality of our healthcare system.( NAN)

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