Abdulrazaq Mungadi, Gombe
Gombe State has recorded the death of 12 Severe Malnourished (SAM) children in three months.
This was revealed by Mr. Usman Baraya, the former nutrition officer of the state, told journalists that 1, 732 children were admitted for SAM cases in the first quarter of 2019.
He also disclosed that 12, 880 out of a total of 15, 326 SAM children admitted between 2018 and the first quarter of 2019, have been cured and discharged.
While admitting that the success was recorded through the Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) programme that was supported by the United Nations International Emergency Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Mr Baraya, said that the programme played a vital role in supporting the state to record improvement that led to the cure of SAM children across the state.
However, he raised concerns over the UNICEF’s withdrawal from the programme. He said the pulling out could threaten lives of SAM children and increase infant mortality in the state.
Even as Civil Society Organizations (CSO) and other stakeholder continue to raise concern and advocacy on the need for the state government to take the driver seat of the RUTF programme a commodity that used to revive SAM children, the state government has taken delivery of about 3, 210 cartoons of the RUTF which was procured by the state government through UNICEF.
Delivering the RUTF to the state government, the representative of Bauchi field office of the UNICEF, Philomena Irene, a nutrition specialist of the international organization disclosed that the state had approved and release N50 million for the purchase of the food which was needed to save lives of scores of children affected by SAM in the state.
While commending the state government for responding to the need of SAM children, the nutrition specialist revealed that more needed to be done as the RUTF purchased can only last between three and four months.
“In 2017, the state government provided the sum of N17 million for procurement of the RUTF and they also went ahead to provide N50 million in 2019; so we can see that the government is making a serious effort with more than 50 percent increase. However, we are still appealing to the government that we need to start making efforts to procure more, because this RUFT will not be enough.
Last year alone, we treated 13, 700 children in the state, this RUFT procured will treat barely 3, 500 children; you see we still have a gap before the end of the year,” Philomena said.
Receiving the stock on behalf of the government of Gombe State, the Executive Secretary, Gombe State Primary Health Care Development Agency (GSPHCDA) Haruna Ali Dadin Kowa assured that the agency in collaboration with the state Ministry of Budget and Planning will commence works to provide more funds procurement of the RUTF.
“We will do all that is expected of us so that our children will be adequately taken care of,” he said.
On his part, Malam Alhassan Yahya, the state chairman MNCH coalition, lauded the state government for responding to advocacy by members of the coalition as well as other stakeholders.
However, he assured that the procurement of the N50 million worth of RUTF would not end their advocacy; this he said, was because more needed to be done in other to save the lives of children and reduce infant mortality in the north-eastern state.