By Francis Sardauna
The Katsina State Government has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the World Bank to tackle the spate of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) currently bedevilling children in the state.
The Commissioner for Health, Mr. Nuhu Yakubu Danja, stated this while in audience with members of the Katsina SAM Network who were in his office on advocacy visit.
The advocacy visit, supported by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) and International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH), seek to draw the attention of government to address issues of malnutrition.
The state has run out of stock of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) supplement used for the treatment of acute malnutrition in children under five years.
Findings at the 15 Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) centres in Mani, Daura, Kaita, Dutse, Jibia, Danmusa, Batsari, Ingawa, Sandamu, Baure, Mashi, Zango, Bakori, Mai’adua and Bindawa Local Government Areas revealed that the centres have no RUTF supplement.
Danja said the memorandum of understanding would enable the bank to support the state government’s ongoing effort of taming the alarming rate of malnourished children in the state.
According to him, “We have signed an MoU with World Bank to support the state on the issue of nutrition. So far, we have reached subsidiary loan agreement and all the counterpart funding required from the state have been given. We are just awaiting the access of the loan facility.”
He expressed government’s resolve to ensure increased and timely release of budgetary allocation for nutrition in order to scale up nutrition interventions in the state.
The commissioner affirmed that the ongoing 2020 MDAs budget review in the state would not affect the N200 million appropriated for nutrition considering its positive impacts on the well-being of the citizenry.
“In our 2020 budget, there is provision of N200 million for nutrition. Despite the directive that all MDAs should review their budgets, our intention here in the Ministry of Health is not to tamper with that provision of N200 million already made.
“The money is not even enough for nutrition. So, we are going to leave it as it is considering the value and importance of nutrition. We intend to ensure strict compliance with the provision of the budget to ensure that whatever is earmarked is fully and satisfactorily utilized,” Danja said.
Earlier, the leader of the delegation, Abdulrahaman Abdullahi Dutsin-Ma, told the commissioner that the purpose of the visit was to appeal to the Ministry not to slash the 2020 budgetary allocation for nutrition during its budget review.
He admonished the commissioner to also ensure speedy and timely releases of counterpart funding for the procurement of RUTF and other supplements for the treatment of SAM in children.
Meanwhile, members of the Katsina SAM Network also paid a similar visit to the Commissioner for Budget and Planning, Mr. Farouk Jobe, where he vowed not to reduce anything from the money appropriated for nutrition.
He said nutrition is among the critical areas contained in the 2020 budget that would not be reviewed in the ongoing budget review across MDAs.
The commissioner urged members of the Network to monitor and ensure judicious utilization of funds appropriated for nutrition in order to curb prevailing malnutrition in the state.