By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
Worried about the increasing rate of malnutrition prevalence in Kaduna State, the Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-sUNN), has urged the state government to improve on the implementation of the National Policy on Nutrition and funding.
CS-SUNN, a non-governmental, non-profit making coalition of organizations with a shared vision to transform Nigeria into a country where every citizens has food and is nutrition secured, also task the media to step up reportage of nutrition issues to attract policy makers and concerned stakeholders to take the right steps towards curbing malnutrition in Nigeria, particularly in Kaduna State.
Beatrice Eluaka, Executive Secretary (CS-SUNN), made the call in Kaduna on Friday in her remarks, during a one-day media engagement on; “Partnership for Improving, Nigeria Nutrition Systems (PINNS).
CS-SUNN is currently implementing a project, called the PINNS, which is aimed at strengthening the Nigeria nutrition systems to make them more Result-driven, Effective, Serviceable, Efficient and Transparent (RESET), delivering on their mandate. With focus on strengthening governance, policy implementation ordination, financing, building the capacity of state actors, generation and effective communication of evidence and promoting accountability.
Eluaka, expressed worries that despite kaduna state government huge investment of N980 million in the 2017 budget to tackle malnutrition, and the fact that the state reached 68% implementation of the National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition (NSPAN), in 2016 and 37.5% Improvement from implementation percent recorded in 2015, available statistics still shows that there is a rise in the trend of malnutrition burden in the state.
According to her, “available statistics indicate a rising trend in the state’s malnutrition burden, which continues to be a key contributor to infant and maternal mortality and morbidity, poor cognitive development and increased severity of diseases adversely affecting under-5 children in the state.
“The 2015 National Health Survey (NNHS) reported a stunting rate in Kaduna State of 52.1% while underweight and wasting rates were 26.9% and 8.3% respectively. While the latest Multiple cluster Indicator Survey (MICS 2017) shows a decrease in the rate of stunting which was put at 40%, wasting and underweight rates for the state have increased with underweight at 34% and wasting 11.7% which is above the WHO acceptable level and calls for emergency action.
“Wasting or acute malnutrition is condition whereby a child is too thin for his or her height due to long-term or current undernutrition child illness.
“Stunting in children under five, a condition of physical and intellectual impairment that has lasting negative effects, is defined by low height for age. Simply put, stunting is a condition in which the child is too short for his or her age with accompanying poor brain development and is a result of undernutrition. Globally, stunting is currently an indicator for measuring a country’s development and is a fact that malnutrition impedes economic development and hence the need for urgent action to address the problem.”
She added, “CS-SUNN is therefore, urging all relevant stakeholders led by government to make a deliberate effort to curb malnutrition in Kaduna State.
“CS-SUNN calls on the state government to finalize the state specific National Multi-sectorial Plan of Action for Nutrition and improve implementation of existing nutrition plans. We also urge government to increase funding allocation for nutrition while ensuring timely releases, effective and efficient utilization of nutrition funds.
“The government needs to ensure clarity in budgeting for nutrition to include preventive interventions such as promoting optimal infant and young child feeding, staple food fortification and Maternal nutrition programmes.
“CS-SUNN tasks the state government on extension of maternity leave to 6 months as is in some other states in Nigeria. The extension will contribute to improved uptake of preventive measures like; Exclusive Breastfeeding, promotion of nutrition education to ensure appropriate Infant and Young Child Feeding practices and Dietary Diversification among women, especially in rural areas. Some of these measures will prevent more children from becoming malnourished and ensure that cured malnourished children do not relapse upon discharge from the treatment centres, as is currently the case in many communities.”
The Executive Secretary, commended the state government resolve to tackle malnutrition headlong in the state for earmarking over N980 million for nutrition in the 2017 budget, adding, “we recognize also that the Kaduna State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan (KADENAP), chaired by the Wife of the governor, Hajiya Ummi el-Rufai is focused on operationalizing concrete actions towards reversing the disturbing statistics on malnutrition in Kaduna.