Unicef’s nutrition programme saves 50,000 children in Jigawa

UNICEF on Wednesday said it spent about N6.1 billion to procure Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) to treat severely malnourished children in Jigawa state, Northwest Nigeria, from 2009 to date.

Dr Abdulai Kaikai, the UNICEF Chief, Bauchi Field Office, said this at an advocacy meeting with stakeholders on the management of severe acute malnutrition in the state.

Kaikai said that within the period under review, 280,980 severely malnourished children were treated with RUTF and 55,094 lives had been saved.

“In 2016 alone, about 74,630 cases of severely malnourished children were treated”, he said.

According to him, this is made possible by the support and contributions from donors like Department for International Development (DFID) and the Children Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF).

The UNICEF official said that 12 local government councils that had Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in their areas had been contributing N24,000 monthly to purchase RUTF for malnourished children.

He called on the local councils to review their contributions because of the high exchange rate and increasing prices of commodities.

He said that the prices of RUTF had tripled hence affecting the quantity supplied, and this had increased the number of severely malnourished children.

“When the current MoU was signed, CMAM had only 46,107 children but the number had increased to 74,630 children as at December 2016. What it means is that currently, more than 75 per cent of the children do not have access to this life-saving interventions, which are very essential to the treatment of severe acute malnutrition’’ Kaikai said.

Earlier in his address, Dr Kabir Ibrahim, the Executive Secretary, State Primary Health-Care, said that it was unacceptable that 60 per cent of their children were stunted due to malnutrition.

Ibrahim, who was represented by a director in the agency, Dr Shehu Sambo, said that it was worrisome that his state was leading in terms of severely acute malnutrition in the country.

“If this ugly development is not well tackled, such affected children will not be able to compete educationally as well as have job opportunities. I urge all stakeholders in the meeting to play their roles in changing the trend in the state,’’ the executive secretary said.