Linus Oota, Lafia
Not less than 20 children suffering from acute malnutrition in Nasarawa State are reported to have died and more are expected to follow due to the non-availability of the food supplements used for management of children suffering from acute malnutrition in the various general hospitals across the state.
Daily Sun gathered reliably that 3 out of the 5 children withdrawn from the Dalhatu Arab Specialist Hospital, Lafia, have died after taking the expired food supplements supplied by Nasarawa State Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA).
The three dead children were confirmed in the hospital after taking the expired drugs. NPHCDA has been supplying expired food supplements for the severe acute malnourished children to the general Hospitals in the state.
In addition to the three, seventeen children have been reported dead in Keffi and Akwanga general hospitals due to Severe Acute Malnutrition and lack of food supplements to manage them since the ones supplied to them by NPHCDA are expired and cannot be administered to them.
Severe Acute Malnutrition, or severe wasting, occurs when a child’s weight drops to such a low level they are at risk of dying, and the state health centers are supposed to deliver life saving care and treatment to such children under the age of five.
Investigation by Daily Sun revealed that the rate of severe wasting in Nasarawa is getting higher as the various general hospitals across the state have started rejecting malnourished children due to non availability of the RF 95 and RF100 food supplements, with the agency continuing to supply expired ones to them.
Daily Sun, visiting the general hospitals in Lafia visiting, Akwanga and Keffi discovered that all the malnourished children were withdrawn and fresh cases rejected.
At the General Hospital, Keffi, one of the officers who does not want her name in print, said “all children diagnosed with severe wasting are supposed to be given due attention with treatment using the RF95 or RF100 food supplements and other ready to use therepeutic food. But since we don’t have, we have started rejecting malnourished children in our facility,” she said.
The Chief Nutrition Officer of the NPHCDA, Hajiya Halima Yusuf, said that she had supplied the RF95 and RF100 food supplements to all general hospitals in the state since 2018, but that the supplements were not used until they became expired.
She said that at the moment, the agency has not bought new food supplements and UNICEF has also not supplied because the counterparts funds have not been provided.
Efforts to get comments from the state NPHDA Executive Chairman, Dr Mohammed Addis, proved abortive as he neither responded to calls nor text messages sent by our correspondent.