From: Agaju Madugba, Katsina
Failure of the Katsina State Government to pay its counterpart funds for the fight against malnutrition may have stalled efforts at managing the scourge in the area, according to Save the Children International, a nongovernmental organisation working to combat malnutrition especially among children.
According to the group, which started its campaign against malnutrition in Katsina State since 2010, the disease which is also known as Kwashiokor, is prevalent in a total of about 15 out of the 34 local government areas in the state.
The affected local government areas, according to the group are, Zango, Daura, Kaita, Dutse, Jibia, Danmusa, Batsari, Ingawa, Sandamu, Baure, Mashi, Mani, Bakori Mai’adua and Bindawa. Reports indicate Mai’Adua alone records about 50 new cases of malnutrition every week.
According to the group, in a statement, on Tuesday, by its Area Operation Manager, Nura Mohammed, most of the 109 Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) centres located across the local government areas have virtually ceased to function due to lack of funds from government for the purchase and distribution of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) which is administered on confirmed malnourished children.
The statement explained that, monthly financial support of N250, 000 from each of the 15 local government areas is usually deducted at source by the state government from the allocations of the local government councils from the Federation Account but regretted that the last release of the funds was in June 2016.
Describing the release of the funds as sporadic, the statement noted that, “the money is usually used for transporting the RUTF from the state store to the local government areas, for onward delivery to the various CMAM sites but most of the 109 CMAM centers are hardly functioning because of lack of funds.
“A budget line for nutrition activities has been created at the Department for Budget and Economic Planning. The amount allocated is N200 million. The sum of N120 million has been earmarked for the purchase of RUTF but not yet released.
“The balance is expected to be used for other nutrition activities as captured in the annual operational plan for nutrition developed by the state with support from partners. There are 109 CMAM sites in these 15 local government areas which operate both outpatient Therapeutic Programme (OTP) and Stabilizer Centre (SC) on specified days using government health facilities and personnel.”
According to the 2016 Global Nutrition Report, Katsina, along with 10 other northern states of Nigeria have a record of 1.7 million malnourished children while the United Nations estimates that 2,300 children under five years and 145 women of childbearing age die every day in Nigeria.
Katsina is reported to have the highest toll along with 59.7 per cent stunting and 43.6 per cent underweight, fallout of undernourished children with malnutrition alone causing more than 50 per cent of the deaths.
According to a recent UNICEF report, an outcome of malnutrition, stunting alone affects 165 million children under the age of five years across the world while an estimated 870 million people in the world, or one in eight, suffer chronic undernourishment.