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UNICEF laments ordeal of 2.5m severely malnourished Nigerian children •Applauds Aisha Buhari, lawmakers

By News Express on 11/10/2017

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The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday applauded on-going efforts by the Wife of the President, Hajiya Aisha Buhari, as well as by the National Assembly to address the urgent need to tackle child malnutrition in Nigeria.

“An estimated 2.5 million Nigerian children under the age of five suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) every year – an extremely dangerous condition that makes children nine times more likely to die from common childhood illnesses  such as such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria. Every year, nearly 420,000 children under five die as a result of this deadly combination in Nigeria,” UNICEF said in a statement issued in Abuja.

It commended Aisha Buhari for contributing to the search for a solution through her ‘Future Assured’ campaign to end child malnutrition in Nigeria and the National Assembly for putting the issue on the front burner of legislative activities.

Highlighting the scale of the problem, UNICEF said: “Although the problem is more widespread in northern Nigeria, there are malnourished children in every Nigerian state. Chronic malnutrition can lead to stunting, leaving children physically and/or mentally under-developed for the rest of their lives. Over 11 million children in Nigeria are stunted – a huge drain on the future of the country.

“Steps to prevent children becoming malnourished include supporting and encouraging mothers to breastfeed their babies exclusively for the first six months of life; educating families about the correct feeding practices for older babies and children; and provision of micronutrient supplements and vitamins  and fortified food for pregnant women and young children.

“Children suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition need medical treatment. An innovative and cost-effective way of treating malnourished children was first introduced in 2009 and has since expanded to 12 northern states. This Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programme has treated over two million children since it was first introduced in Nigeria, at a cost of just US$160 per child.

“Treatment generally lasts for about eight weeks, during which mothers and care-givers of children suffering from SAM bring their children once a week to a primary health care facility, where they are given advice and information about how to care for their malnourished children and supplied with packages of Ready-To-use-Therapeutic Food – known as RUTF – which gives malnourished children the critical nutrients they need to recover.

“RUTF, frequently referred to as ‘miracle food’, is a peanut-based paste, which also contains milk powder, sugar and multiple micronutrients. A Lagos-based Nigerian company, DABS, has recently received international certification to produce RUTF for the treatment of SAM, so the provision of RUTF will no longer be dependent on imports.

“The British charity the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), which has provided almost US$60 million to cover the cost of CMAM in Nigeria’s 12 northern states since 2013, has issued a challenge to the leaders of those states to fulfil their commitment to provide counterpart funding and even to go beyond. If the states are able to raise US$16 million to fund SAM treatment in 2017 and 2018, CIFF has pledged to provide and additional matching US$16 million.”

Source News Express

Posted 11/10/2017 12:01:26 PM

 

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