By Segun Awofadeji in Gombe
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has charged legislators in North-east states to appropriate adequate funds in their 2018 budgets for health and nutrition.
UNICEFâ€™s Chief Field Officer for Bauchi, Abdullai Kakai, who was represented by the Officeâ€™s Nutrition Specialist, Philomena Irene, gave the charge at the opening ceremony of a two-day capacity workshop for legislators on Universal Health Coverage in Gombe Tuesday.
Irene said the call has become necessary following the increasing rate of malnutrition in the country.
A report recently released by Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey for 2016 in Nigeria showed an increase in child wasting from 24.2 per cent to 31.5 per cent while stunting had equally increased from 34.8 per cent to 43.6 per cent.
According to her, the report showed that the Northern part of the country appears to be worse off as nearly half of all the childrenâ€™s death is related to poor nutrition.
She said investment in nutrition, which is cost effective, will help reverse this negative trends as well as boost Nigeriaâ€™s GDP, adding: â€œThe World Bank in its 2017 report revealed that for every N1,000 invested on nutrition will yield a N16,000 return, showing that nutrition is for development of the nation and therefore any resources invested in it is not a loss, but a boost for the economy.â€
While commending the state legislatures for responding positively to the enhancement of health and nutrition of women and children through appropriation of resources for promotion of rights of children in their state budgets, Irene implored them to make adequate provision of funds in the 2018 budget.
â€œWe pledge with you to use your oversight role to track the release and implementation of allocated budget for health and nutrition in 2017 budget,â€ she appealed.
Earlier, while declaring the workshop open, the Speaker of the Gombe State House of Assembly, Hon. Abubakar Nasiru Nono, who was represented by the Majority Leader of the House, Hon. Amos Fabulous, described the workshop as very important and timely as it will go a long way in helping the legislators to put in more efforts in reducing the indices of malnutrition in their various states especially Gombe State.
The aim of the workshop which brought together state legislators from the zone, civil society organisations and journalists is geared towards the achievement of objectives of universal health coverage as well as promoting maternal and child nutrition.