By Mustapha Yauri
Abuja – The Federal Ministry of Health has restated its commitment to provide enabling environment to stimulate local production of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) to stem the challenges of malnutrition in Nigeria.
RUTF is an energy-dense, mineral- and vitamin-enriched food that requires no preparation and is specifically designed to treat severe acute malnutrition (SAM).
Dr Chris Isokpunwu, Head Nutrition Division of the ministry, disclosed this in an interview with News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Abuja.
Isokpunwu said one of the strategies adopted by government to encourage local production of RUTF was to include it in the list of essential medicines to foster its availability in Nigeria.
“In line with the executive order on local content, the ministry has put it as a caveat for UNICEF that procurement of RUTF should be from local producers.
“Unless the local producers cannot meet the capacity demanded by UNICEF, then UNICEF can buy the commodity outside Nigeria.
“Indeed, UNICEF has complied with federal government’s executive order on content in the procurement of RUTF.’’
He said only one company was locally producing RUTF in Nigeria at the moment, the ministry monitored the procurement of RUTF by UNICEF and most of the RUTF distributed were procured locally.
“We are following up with UNICEF to ensure that this continues.’’
NAN recalls that in 2017, the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding with UNICEF for counterpart contribution for the procurement of Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).
NAN also recalls that the Federal Ministry of Health disbursed over N1.8 billion for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition in 18 States between 2017 and 2018.
“Between that 2017 and now, the ministry has contributed and disbursed about N1.8billion as counterpart contribution for the procurement of the commodity.
“The first payment was N600million from the 2017 appropriation; the money was used to set up treatment centres, training of health workers and distribution of the RUTF in Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Osun and Bauchi States and the Federal Capital Territory.
“12,000 cartons of the commodity were also distributed in the five States and the FCT,’’ he said.
Isokpunwu said that in the 2018 appropriation, the Federal Government disbursed N1.2 billion to UNICEF based on the MoU to procure RUTF.