32 States Not Fully Committed to Malnutrition Treatment, Says UNICEF

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Michael Olugbode

With two million children still suffering from acute malnutrition in Nigeria, the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has lamented that 32 states are not fully committed to child malnutrition treatment in the country.

 The United Nations agency yesterday at a media dialogue, it organised with the Child Rights Information Bureau of the Federal Ministry of Information and Culture in Yola, said only four states, Kaduna, Gombe, Bauchi and Sokoto contributed fund in 2016 towards the purchase of Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic Food (RUTF), the major intervention for severe acute malnutrition.

 Philomena Irene, a nutrition specialist, said Kaduna contributed the largest sum of N300 million with Sokoto, Gombe and Bauchi contributing N50 million, N17 million and N10 million respectively.

 She disclosed that Jigawa State has approved N150 million for the purchase, but the money is yet to be released.

 Irene said though 32 states have not paid for RUTF, but some of them have contributed in some other ways towards fighting severe acute malnutrition.

 She said of the 2.5 million children that suffered from severe acute malnutrition, half a million children were administered with RUTF, leaving 2 million children untreated.

 She also revealed that of the US$107 million needed to effect the treatment; US$21.5 million was realised living a shortfall of US$85.5 million.

 The UNICEF nutrition specialist however warned that if  government do not spend the $1 needed to prevent malnutrition now, $16 would be spent on the numerous diseases that malnutrition causes in the future.

 She said: “If we do not spend the money now, in future we will spend a lot on the diseases like diabetes, obesity, among others that malnutrition cause.”