United Nations Children’s Fund has said that 440,000 children under the age of five in three states of the northeast will suffer severe malnutrition –
The international agency said there is an estimated 2.5 million under five years of age suffering from SAM –
According to the UNICEF, an integrated and timely response is needed to address the issue of malnutrition in the northeast and Nigeria as a whole
As cases of malnutrition bite harder on the Nigerian economy, the United Nations Children’s Fund has said that 440,000 children under the age of five in three states of the northeast – Borno, Yobe and Adamawa – will suffer Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in 2019.
The international agency said an integrated and timely response is needed to address the issue of malnutrition in the northeast and Nigeria as a whole.
Speaking during a media dialogue on “integrated and timely response to nutrition-related humanitarian needs” in Maiduguri, on Thursday, September 26, a UNICEF nutrition specialist, Abigael Nyukuri, said there is an estimated 2.5 million under five years of age suffering from SAM.
The dialogue is organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in collaboration with UNICEF and support from the Department for International Development (DFID).
According to Nyukuri said that Yobe state tops the northeast states on malnutrition with 13% followed by Borno with 11% and Adamawa, 6%.
Nyukuri said the challenges of insecurity has also worsened the situation in the region.
“Poor nutrition situation is further exacerbated by the poor food security situation, sub-optimal Water Sanitation and Hygiene practices and high disease burden. There is really poor food security in the three states,” Nyukuri said.
In his reaction, a UNICEF nutrition specialist, Aminu Usman, Nigeria is in need of N4.4 billion to procure 229,636 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).
According to Usman, RUTF – a vitamin and mineral fortified peanut paste mixed with dry milk products and used as a cure for children suffering from SAM – is needed to address malnutrition in Borno state in the coming year
Explaining that N5 billion was initially needed for the procurement of 258,950 cartons of RUTF for 2020, Usman said UNICEF has been able to secure procurement for 29,314 cartons.
He said this procurement has left a funding gap of N4.4 billion for the procurement of 229,636 cartons of RUTF needed for addressing the issue of malnutrition.
“N5 billion is needed to necessitate the procurement of 258,950 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food for Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) treatment.”
“Already, 29,314 cartons have been secured, leaving a funding gap of N4.4 billion for the procurement of the remaining 229,636 cartons of RUTF,” Usman said.
Listing poverty, security, lack of knowledge and harmful social practices as the challenges of addressing the growing cases of malnutrition, Usman said, there is a likelihood of fresh influx which may aggravate the already poor nutrition situation in the states.
“We have many children but we are not able to reach them due to security challenges in the hard to reach areas,” he said.Also speaking, the minister of information and culture, Lai Mohammed, who was represented by the deputy director and head, Child Rights Information Bureau, Olumide Osanyinpeju, it is important to avoid the consequences of malnutrition.
The minister said it should be noted that the future of every country is at risk of deprivations of basic social amenities, of which nutrition is inclusive.
He said, particularly in the northern rural and hard-to-reach communities, a large number of children are being deprived of these basic needs.
“Let us note that Nigeria’s future depends on producing children who are well prepared to take their place in tomorrow’s society,” the minister said
“However, most, unfortunately, a large number of these children are at risk of deprivations of basic social amenities, of which nutrition is inclusive; and especially in the Northern rural and hard-to-reach communities.”
“Majority of these children are also living in conflict, and communities under emergencies, and it has been difficult taking indeed all basic amenities to them,” he added.