By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna.
No doubt that the Kaduna State Government is passionate about the elimination of malnutrition in the state, judging by the financial commitment.
And also with the promise made by wife of the governor, Mrs Aisha El-rufai, during a stakeholders meeting on the scale up of Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM), held in Makarfi, Makarfi Local Government Area of the state on 29th September, 2019, that she will soon roll out emergency measures to tame the deadly menace in children and women in the state.
Because of this special passion, the governor since inception, has released over N37 Million Naira for the procurement of Ready To Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) and other medicines for the management of children with Acute Malnutrition at the community level, to compliment partners like the United Nations Children’s fund (UNICEF) and other donors and stakeholders in the fight against malnutrition.
Malnutrition is a condition that occurs when people do not consistently consume, absorb or utilize the right amounts and types of foods and essential nutrients, according to experts. Malnutrition can present itself as under-nutrition, stunting, wasting, underweight over-nutrition, overweight, etc.
Malnutrition as we are all aware is one of the deadliest killer of children today in the world. With over 1.6 million children malnourished in Kaduna State according to statistics by UNICEF and the need to urgently eradicate it from the land, the state government needs to give more attention and also make adequate budgetary provisions for Nutrition.
During, the stakeholders meeting at Makarfi, wife of the governor noted that “as you might be aware from so many surveys conducted, the Nutrition situation of women and children in Kaduna State is Public Health concern as Malnutrition accounts for over 50% of under-five mortality.
“We are all aware that Nutrition issues are multi-sectoral in nature and therefore require multi-sectoral approach in tackling the problems associated with it. This therefore underscores the importance of calling all stakeholders to a meeting of this nature.
“Recent surveys (National Nutrition Health Survey 2015) have shown that 52.1% of children are short for their age (stunted), or chronically malnourished and 41.7% are thin (wasted) or acutely malnourished in Kaduna state. Micronutrients deficiency such as Vitamin A and iodine is also common among these children (27.8%) due to poor intake. Infant Mortality rate is 103%/ 1000 live births and Under 5 Mortality rate is 169 /1000 live births.”
She therefore stated that the poor nutrition indices being revealed by various surveys about the state, are not acceptable as the state will take appropriate actions without delay to drastically reduce the incidences.
Although, some steps are already being taken by state and its’ partners like UNICEF and others, as enumerated by the state nutrition officer, Mrs. Jane Gwani. According to her, the state Government already has 5 CMAM sites in Zaria LGA, supported by UNICEF and that another 5 will soon begin in Makarfi LGA. And that Young Child Feeding Micronutrient Deficiency Control Support for nutrition policy and institutional capacity building for resource mobilization and scaling up nutrition is currently ongoing.
She explained that over 2525 malnourished children have so far been admitted to the Zaria CMAM sites between the month of March and August 2016, out of which about 800 has fully recovered and 52 died.
Looking at the statistics below, as presented by Mrs. Gwani, you must agree that alot need be done if we must abolish malnutrition from Kaduna State.
This is a brief summary of CMAM report from March to August 2016; March Total admitted: 114 Death: 1 Default: o Transferred to in patient: 5.
APRIL: Total admitted: 78 Recovered: 13 Death: 0 Default: 1
MAY: Total admitted: 351 Recovered: 125 Death: 6 Default: 18
JUNE: Total admitted: 505 Recovered: 158 Death: 10 Default: 90 None Recovered: 5.
JULY: Total admitted: 724 Recovered: 207 Death: 15 Default: 118 None Recovered: 4.
AUGUST: Total admitte: 753 Recovered :281 Death: 20 Default: 145 None Recovered: 3.
Now, one thing that need to be critically look at is the fact that there was increase in the admission of children in those sites which reflects government commitment and also showed the fact that the numbers of malnourished children who were admitted during these period keeps increasing by the month, but then you will also discover that there was increase in death of children being treated.
This is just 1 LGA out of 23. Therefore, Kaduna State government must do something new from the norm if the children of the state will grow up to enjoy the infrastructural development being embarked upon by the government.
One of the major urgent approaches the government needs to take is the establishment of CMAM sites across the 23 LGAs in the State to give easy access to people in other LGAs who currently have no access to malnutrition treatment in the state.
Also speaking during the Makarfi meeting, Utpal Moitra, Chief of Field Office UNICEF Kaduna, emphasized the need for both the state and LGAs to expand the CMAM sites to all the LGAs in the State in order to reach every malnourished child.
According to Moitra, all stakeholders must put hands on deck in ensuring that malnutrition is eradicated, as government alone can not address the issue.
“Malnutrition can not be addressed by one ministry alone, it cannot be addressed by one development partner, it cannot be addressed by one NGO, it cannot be addressed by one community.
“We need different people, we need different ministries, we need different development partners, we need different NGOs under the supervision of the state and LGAs to implement the issue of malnutrition.” The UNICEF Chief noted.
In her presentation during the same meeting, Dr. Florence Oni UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, urged the state government not to lose sight of the structural procedure for malnutrition implementation as enshrined in the National Policy on Food and Nutrition document.
She said, “Implementation agencies at Federal, State, and LGA levels are responsible for the implementation of specific projects and programmes relevant to the policy. The focal points at Federal, State, and LGA levels will have the responsibility of identifying and mobilising resources for executing given project or activity in a coordinated manner and paying due emphasis to the need for harmonisation and synergy within each body’s geographic boundaries and authority.”
The roles of other stakeholders, including the organised private sector, development partners, professional bodies, civil society organisations (CSOs), Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), Faith Based Organizations (FBOs), and communities to implement policy, according to her is complimentary.
Dr. Florence, called on parents, caregivers, volunteers communities and other stakeholders to join hands in doing their roles and responsibilities, adding that “bringing children for treatment, children whose caregivers have refused admission to the Stabilization Center Special situations, Children who are losing weight or whose medical condition is deteriorating (TB) -Children who are not responding to treatment (HIV/AIDS) Engage: The community volunteers, (e.g. CORPS/TBAs) Key Community Figures Health Assistants ‘Positive Caregivers.”
By; ALEX UANGBAOJE, Kaduna.