The United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, said 1,115 children have died from acute malnutrition in Borno between January and December 2019.
Simon Karanja, the UNICEF nutrition sector coordinator, disclosed this at the inauguration of the Borno Steering Committee on Food and Nutrition in Maiduguri.
Karanja said that in the year under review, 138,236 children were treated in various Community for Management of Acute Malnutrition centers in the state while 6,399 defaulted treatment.
He also said that 1,877 children did not recover or relapsed. He said that at least three cases of death were recorded every day in the state.
The official attributed the rising cases of malnutrition to include poor dietary consumption trends, high prevalence of diseases such as diarrhea, measles, and food insecurity.
Other factors, he said, included poor funding of prevention interventions, duplication, and gaps in services, critical medicine shortages for such persons.
“In 2020, the program targeted 533,000 children in need of treatment. “Also, an estimated 138,000 are expected to receive treatment for Severe Acute Malnutrition while 182 will receive treatment for Moderate Acute Malnutrition,” he said.
Also speaking, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene, WASH, manager for UNICEF, Kabuka Banda, attributed rising cases of malnutrition especially in the IDPs camps to lack “adequate utilization of the environment”.
Banda said that children only got the best type of food when they were living in a healthy and conducive environment and not in a hazardous settlement.
“The practice of open defecation poses a big threat and has remained a big contributor to malnutrition, especially in IDPs camps which can alter the children’s growth and affect their performance.
“It is therefore important to work with the WASH sector to highlight some of these concerns to enable the children to get the best types of foods in their environment,” he said.
Also speaking, the UNICEF nutritional manager, Sanjey Kumar-Das, described some of the common symptoms of malnutrition to include fatigue, dizziness, and weight loss.
Kumar- Das said that untreated malnutrition could cause physical or mental disability to a child’s growth.
“Studies show that around 16 percent gross domestic loss due to undernutrition and Malnourished children are twelve times more likely to die compared to their normal peers,” he said.
In his remarks, Geoffrey Ijumba, UNICEF’s Chief Field Officer, lauded the committee for working toward achieving the National Food Policy and Nutrition Policy Objectives and implement its programs.
Ijumba explained that the mandate of the committee included providing necessary technical and professional assistance and support to the state on food and nutrition planning and program implementation.
“Food security and nutrition situation remain fragile across Northeast, particularly given the high level of aid dependency and the lack of access to land or other livelihood opportunities.
“The state committee will, therefore, advise on the formulation of appropriate strategies to cushion most of the shocks and effects of the crises on nutrition and food security across the state.
Adamu Lawan, the commissioner of finance, budget, and planning, said that the state government had released N1 billion to the Bank Of Industry, BOI, for programs to mitigate malnutrition.
Lawan who is also the chairman, Steering Committee on Food Nutrition, said the state government also earmarked N5 billion in the 2020 budget as fund backing for various programs and interventions in the state.
He said that lack of accountability, and proper coordination, as well as political, would have affected the implementation of various programs in the state.
Lawan said the inauguration of the committee would go a long way in enhancing programs and policies of government to addressing health and other humanitarian challenges confronting the state.
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