From: Ali Abare, Gombe
Members of the state assemblies from the North East geo-political zone have blamed state governments for not according nutrition the required priority leading to the rise in severe malnutrition among children.
The lawmakers made their position known, on Wednesday, shortly after visiting a Community Management for Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) centre, in Tudun Wada area of Gombe.
The visit, which was part of activities during a two-day capacity development workshop for North East legislators on universal health coverage, saw the lawmakers had first-hand encounter with victims of severe malnutrition.
Irked by the sight of the Tudun Wada treatment center, the lawmakers expressed dismay that governments in the zone failed to accord priority to the issue of malnutrition leaving mostly children of the poor to suffer from wasting and stunting.
Aminu Foni, member representing Chibok constituency of Borno State, challenged political leaders to tell the truth by admitting that Nigerians are hungry.
“We have not been telling the people the truth. Nigerians are hungry. The scene at the centre is pathetic and a sad commentary on the inability of government to cater for the needs of the people, ” he said.
Ibrahim Bello Katagum, Chairman, House Committee on Health in the Bauchi State House of Assembly also accused governments of deliberately abandoning the people in pursuit of juicy contracts.
He said instead of government to accord the welfare of the people top priority, “they chose to award to themselves huge contracts to enrich themselves while the people wallow in poverty. ” he said.
Katagum described as unacceptable a situation whereby the children of the less privileged are left hungry to be ravaged by severe malnutrition.
Amos Fabalus, House Leader at the Gombe State House of Assembly, called for a radical approach to address critical issues affecting the lives of the people.
“Left for me, we should have a revolution in the country. Things are not working and we are not telling ourselves the truth,” he said.
Philomena Irene, Nutrition Specialist with UNICEF Bauchi Field Office said there is donor fatigue because of the inability of state governments to fulfill their part of the bargain by paying up the required counterparts funding to fight severe malnutrition among children.
“Donors are tired. They cannot just keep their eyes off because Nigerians are suffering,” she said.
She lamented that even after UNICEF procured the Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for distribution free of charge in the treatment of severe malnutrition, state governments cannot transport it from medical stores to CMAM sites.
“Mothers are forced to return without RUTF because it could not be transported to the centres, ” she said.
An official at the Tudun Wada CMAM centre who spoke under the condition of anonymity, blamed government inaction for the rise in severe cases of malnutrition.
“It was part of the agreement with UNICEF that government would supply routine drugs at the centres. This is six years now that drugs have not been supplied, ” the official said.
The official explained that as a result of the failure to supply routine drugs, many parents are forced to stop the treatment for their malnourished children because they were forced to buy drugs.
“Parents are forced to buy drugs like Amoxycillin which can cost between N1,300 and N3,500, the official said.