From Judex Okoro, Calabar
The rescue and treatment of malnourished children is part of government’s programme aimed at ensuring that no child in the state dies from malnutrition.
The programme, tagged “Remain healthy and alive,” is anchored by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Betta Edu, in collaboration with some community tracers (finders) and health workers.
Briefing journalists on the activities of the ministry so far, Edu said government’s support and speedy interventions have helped in saving the lives of a good number of children.
Edu said it is the desire of government to see that all kids who are malnourished are given urgent medical assistant free, while their families are supported to sustain the care. She added that the active search strategy has helped in the discovery of over 234 severely malnourished chldren so far living in remote parts of the state.
She noted that severe malnutrition in children was a serious issue that must be tackled to save lives, explaining that most times it was caused by ignorance.
She noted the COVID-19 lockdown, which resulted in loss of livelihoods, as parents could no longer feed their children, was another cause of severe malnutrition in Cross River.
According to her, even when the state was blessed with food so much so that residents should have no business with severe malnutrition, some families do not know how to use the available food from farm and river to cater to the wards’ nutritional needs properly.
Explaining that they have visited over 200 communities searching for malnourished children, the commissioner said: “We have been able to rescue over 120 malnourished children who have received proper medical attention, support and care from us. Today, most of them are living a more healthier life than when we first met them.”
Edu said it was high time parents paid attention to basic foods like fresh vegetables, fish, periwinkle, and so on, that could help nourish their kids, rather than resorting to refined juice, biscuit and custard.
She promised that the state government would continue to carry out community engagement by working with communities to build a resilient health system to help address the menace.
Some of the parents, mostly single mothers, commended the state governement for its intervention, support, love and care that have given their children a beter life.
Speaking on behalf of other mothers, Madam Unyime Monday, 45, a resident of Old Odukpani village, said the support, financially and medically, has changed the lives of their children.
She said: “We are grateful to the government for coming all out to look for us in our houses to give us support. Today, our children can get medical care and even food to eat.”
Some of the severely malnourished kids who got medical attention and support as well as palliatives included Jesam Esua, Torsam Esua, Obasesam Esua (triplets), and Grace and Marvelous Henshaw, twins of three months old.
Others were ThankGod Francis Elemi, Shedrack Joseph, Isaac Joseph, Emmanuel Sunday and Offiong Sylvester.