UNICEF: 245,300 Children Suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition in Katsina

•Says 2,000 cases recorded monthly

Francis Sardauna in Katsina

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said 245,300 children aged under five are suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) across the 34 local government areas of Katsina State.

The Chief of UNICEF, Kano Office, Mr. Rahama Mohammed Farah, who disclosed this during the launch of a Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) report in Katsina yesterday, said the malnourished children need urgent treatment from the government.

He explained that the nutritional situation of children aged between six to 59 months in the state has worsened with an average of about 2,000 cases of severe acute malnutrition being recorded in hospitals across the state in a month.

In terms of antenatal care (ANC) services provided by skilled health personnel in the state, Farah said, “Katsina state is doing worse,” as only 40.2 per cent of expectant mothers who visit health facilities in the state were attended to by the health workers.

According to him, there was a need for a significant improvement in primary health care services in terms of access and quality in the state, particularly at the ward level if the state aims to improve the status of health indicators.

He therefore called on the state government and policymakers to allocate and release adequate resources for the treatment of malnutrition to improve the current human development situation in the state.

He said: “Based on the preliminary findings from a recently completed SMART survey across the 34 LGAs of Katsina State, an estimated 245,300 children aged under five are suffering from SAM and need immediate treatment.

“In terms of learning achievement in schools the MICS 2021 measures the level of foundational numeracy and literacy skills of children between the ages of 7 to 12.

“MICS data shows that the learning achievement situation in Katsina State is still far below the national average. For example, in Katsina State, only nine per cent of the children assessed, have demonstrated foundational reading skills compared to 26 per cent at the national level.”

Farah reiterated that state governments within the region needed to intervene in the areas of tackling poverty and improve the basic social services in health, education, nutrition, social protection, water and sanitation, as well as child rights.

He added that governments in the region must also carefully review the MICS data, analyse the underlying and contributing root causes of the poor human development indicators and implement better focused and effective strategies to address them.

Earlier, the State Commissioner for Health, Yakubu Nuhu Danja, represented by the Director Primary Healthcare, Nafisa Sani, said lack of adequate SAM treatment centres in the state was the bane of malnutrition afflicting children in the state.

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