By; FUNMI OROYE ADERINTO & ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Children Investment Foundation Fund (CIFF) on Monday pledged to support Kaduna State Government to treat about 279,542 severe acute malnourished children in the state.
UNICEF Chief of Nutrition, Simeon Nanama made the pledge during an assessment visit to Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) site at Primary Health Care, Jaji, Igabi local government area of Kaduna State.
Nanama noted that SAM children are 12 times likely to die than healthy children if not treated.
He stressed to need for increased intervention with focus on treatment of affected children to save them from avoidable death.
He said CIIF, a United Kingdom-based philanthropic organisation collaborates with other organisation around the world to improve the survival of children.
He said that UNICEF, in collaboration with CIFF is working in Nigeria to increase SAM health facilities for the treatment of affected children.
“Our goal is to ensure that treatment is available for majority of children affected with the disease, maintain high quality of treatment and ensure ownership and investment by local government areas in the programme, “Nanama said.
UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, UNICEF Kaduna, Chinwe….has said that the number of children suffering from SAM had increased from 271,400 in 2017 to 279,542 as at end of April 2018.
The Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Kaduna, Dr Zakari Adam, appreciated the state’s commitment over the years in implementing nutrition policies and interventions.
“I particularly commended Kaduna state for mobilising domestic resources for financing nutrition interventions especially procurement of Ready to use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) used for the treatment of SAM.
“CIFF have been working in collaboration with UNICEF to scale up access to SAM treatment in Nigeria since 2014 and had so far spent about 60 million U.S. dollars, “Adam said.
He, therefore, urged the government to increase their funding level to make RUTF available to sustain Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) services, adding that partners funding alone cannot sustain the programme.
Hajiya Ummi El-Rufa’I, the wife of the Kaduna State Governor and Chairperson, Kaduna State Emergency Nutrition Action Plan (KADENAP) thanked UNICEF and CIFF for the support.
Said that 28 SAM treatment facilities are available in five LGAs, while 18 LGAs, representing 78 per cent of 23 the LGAs in the state are still without treatment facilities.
According to her, about 17,981 malnourished children were admitted in the facilities with 80 per cent of them successfully cured using RUTF.
She added that N750 million was spent between 2016 and 2017 to treat affected children.
After the assessment visit, the team paid a courtesy call on Gov. Nasir El-Rufa’I at Government House to advocate for the release of more funds to fight the dreaded disease.
The leader of CIFF team, Mr Jonathan Oates, said his team was impressed with what is going on in the treatment centres and were overwhelmed with the turnout to access services.
Oates pledged to support the state government efforts with 100 per cent of whatever amount the government released for nutrition intervention.
Responding, El-Rufa’I acknowledged that the crisis of malnutrition still persist in the state in spite of efforts and progress recorded so far.
He assured UNICEF and CIFF to do whatever needs to be done in addressing the menace, particularly in the area of funding.