Expert calls for proper nutrition of Infants and children

Rebecca Mu’azu, Gombe

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Nutrition Stakeholders in Gombe State have appealed to the State Government to fund Infant and Young Child Feeding to prevent malnutrition in the state.

The appeal was led by a Nutrition Champion and Advocate, Mr. Alhassa Yahya, in Gombe, as the state enters three months without the Ready to Use Therapeutic Food, for the treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition.

Mr. Yahya said the state was among those with a high rate of Malnutrition and that from July 2019 to May 2020, the Federal and State Governments brought in 12 thousand cartons of the Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic Food worth 340 million naira to Gombe State, but that within ten months, the entire package was completely consumed.

Also, he said Governor Muhammadu Inuwa Yahaya, had in April 2020 released 25 million naira counterpart for the RUTF, which was over 1, 400 cartons, but was equally completely consumed, with none available for patients.

The Nutrition Champion therefore appealed to the government to release the remaining 50 million naira allocated in the 2020 Budget for the purchase of the RUTF.

He, however, said that despite the huge investment by the government, the issue was very alarming.

Consequently, he said the solution to the problem was in the preventive measures, which was in funding Infant and Young Child Feeding.

If the Government can focus more and invest in preventive measures, I want to believe and assure everyone that the result will be enormous and at the end of the day, the treatment cost will reduce drastically and most people in the nooks and crannies within the state will know a lot about how to prepare locally available food for their children,” Mr. Yahya said.

On how poor families could prevent malnutrition in their children, Mr. Yahya said budgetary allocation domiciled at the Ministry of Science and Technology and other agencies would help in mobilising civil society organisations, experts and even the media in sensitising the public on how to make use of local materials to produce nutritious foods for their children and households.

We believe with such awareness creation, it’s going to go a long way and help people to know. If you look at Gombe State, it’s an Agrarian State. At the end of the day, most of us cultivate beans, Soya Beans and so on, but we end up taking 100% of what we cultivated to the market without leaving a little part of it for our children,” said Mr. Yahya.

For Mohammed Haruna Bawa, the Nutrition Focal Person, Gombe Local Government, the local government area has been recording Stockout of the RUTF since the second week of October 2020.

Speaking with Voice of Nigeria, Mr. Haruna-Bawa equally appeals to the Executive Governor of Gome State for stock up, because communities where such services are being rendered are suffering.

According to him, some children are dying from Severe Acute Malnutrition due to the stock out.

This Severe Acute Malnutrition without RUTF, the treatment will not be 100% accomplished. So, we are appealing to his Excellency to look at the situation in order to get some supplies,” Mr. Haruna-Bawa said.

Malnutrition issues

He said facilities still witnessed an influx of patients, because there were different categories of patients with malnutrition issues, such as Moderate Acute Malnutrition, which is not severe and could be managed at home using adequate diet, a very nutritious food.

He said Severe Acute Malnutrition could only be managed by the Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food and without it, it would be difficult to manage the situation.

Haruna-Bawa was of the opinion that the treatment of the moderate form of malnutrition could be accomplished by following the Infant and Young Child Feeding Counselling Protocol.

If a child is a MAM Child, the facilities that are operating CMAM Programmes and some of the facilities are all trained on IYCF. They are able to examine the child, looking at his age and advise the mother or the caregiver on what to feed the child,” Haruna-Bawa said.

He says malnutrition sets in at the age of six months, which is the end of the of the six-month exclusive breastfeeding and the beginning of the complementary feeding.

During the time of the availability of the RUTF, facilities in a quarter admit about 600 to 700 patients across the 5 CMAM Centres within Gombe LGA, which operate from Mondays to Fridays, but that now, the number was now reducing.

On whether there are alternatives to the RUTF in its absence, Mr. Haruna-Bawa said for Severe-Acute Malnutrion cases, without the RUTF, the management of a SAM Child would be very difficult, because the RUTF is a complete package for the treatment of a SAM Child for the fact that he needs quick intervention.

He said SAM cases were of two categories, those with medical complications would be in the Out-Patient Therapeutic Programme, while a SAM Child with Medical complications would first be referred to the Stabilisation Centre for the management of the complication.

Mr. Haruna-Bawa said it was only when the complications were treated that the child would yet again e brought back to the Community Based Management of Acute Malnutrition Centre for the treatment.

For a moderate Child, however, he said he could be managed with an Infant and Young Child Feeding.

Gombe LGA, as part of Pilot Local Government areas, has been running the programme for more than a decade, since September 2009. There are about five to eight LGAs with CMAM Centres in the state. The initial ones are in Gombe, Dukku and Nafadda

Lateefah Ibrahim

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