Acute Malnutrition Hits Children in Katsina

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Francis Sardauna in Katsina

Katsina State has 58 per cent of children with stunting challenges and 31.4 per cent of underweight children and 3.0 per cent of children with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), according to recent statistics released by the Oxford Policy Management (OPM) on its nutritional smart survey of 2018.

Worried by the development in the state, the Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in collaboration with International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) yesterday held a one-day engagement with women and youth groups on the prevention and treatment of SAM as a child right in the state.

CISLAC and ISMPH are currently implementing a nutrition advocacy project focusing on prevention and treatment of severe acute malnutrition in the northern states and at the federal level.

Addressing the participants, CISLAC Programme Manager, Chioma Kanu, said the spate of malnutrition amongst children in the state was alarming, hence the need for the participants to embark on community awareness on the availability and use of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for mothers in order to avert the scenario.

She said: “According to Oxford Policy Management (OPM) on the nutritional smart survey 2018, Katsina State records 58 per cent of children with stunting problem. Those with Severe Acute Malnutrition are 3.0 per cent, while the rate of underweight children in the state stands at 31.4 per cent.”

The CISLAC programme manager explained that malnutrition causes 53 per cent of various childhood diseases in Nigeria, thereby making the country to be one of 20 countries that are responsible for 80 per cent of global malnutrition.

“There are approximately 2.6 million Nigerian under-five children that are affected by malnutrition. Why should we adults sit down and we don’t do anything when our children are malnourished. It is their right as children to good health,” she added.

She however, urged women, Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and other critical stakeholders to advocate for the expansion of the existing Community-base Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) to additional local government areas in the state for adequate coverage of children with SAM cases.

On her part, Bunmi Aweda of International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) admonished journalists to use their media platforms to reach out to decision- and policy-makers on the need to stamp out children malnutrition in Nigeria.

She urged the Katsina State government to ensure timely release of nutrition budget and counterpart funds to tackle the menace in the state.

The event, aimed at engaging the women and youth groups on SAM issues and government on their commitments on funding and prioritisation of RUTF and Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM), drew participants from the media and civil society organisations in the state.