By Chioma Obinna
Concerned about the estimated annual projection of 371,000 children under the age of 5 to suffer Severe Acute Malnutrition, SAM, Department for International Department, DFID has invested a total of N18.2 billion (41 million pounds) to curb the menace in Borno and Yobe States.
Statistics obtained from the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, revealed that nationwide, an estimated 2.5 million boys and girls under the age of 5 suffer from SAM every year in Nigeria.
Also, Nutrition Sector estimates showed that in the three BAY states of Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe, nutrition surveillance data indicate a slight improvement in the nutrition situation since the beginning of the response but the wide-spread insecurity, population displacement, poor food security situation, sub-optimal Water, hygiene and Sanitation Practices and high disease burden continues to strain the on-going efforts to curb malnutrition in all its forms in the region.
According to the latest Nutrition Survey, the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) among Boys and Girls aged below 5 Years is 11 per cent in Borno, 13 per cent in Yobe and 6 per cent in Adamawa, indicating very high levels of malnutrition according to World Health Organisation Classification.
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Addressing journalists during a 2-day media dialogue in Maiduguri, Borno State, organised by the Child Rights Information Bureau, Federal Ministry of Information and Culture, in collaboration with the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, on “Integrated and Timely Response to Nutrition-Related Humanitarian Needs”, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Aminu Usman explained that out of the £41 million (N18.2 billion), Borno will get £36 million and Yobe £5 million.
The money would be used to carry out projects in Borno from April 2019 to March 2022 while In Yobe the projects will run from April 2019 to March 2020.
According to the UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, the projects are aimed at detecting emerging/deteriorating nutrition-related crises in Borno through an agile nutrition surveillance system and provide a timely response through the implementation of an integrated basic Nutrition package.
Also, UNICEF is expected to use the fund to improve maternal and young child nutrition DFID Supported Nutrition Project. He disclosed further that for 2019 overall Nutrition Response Progress in the BAY States, UNICEF targets 15, 102 for children six to 59 months for SAM but achieved 13,444.
Stating that new influx of IDPs was worsening the nutrition situation in Borno, he warned that the protracted access constraints have made the situation even worse in Rann (Kala Balge), South Yobe, Magumeri, Jere and Konduga Local Government Areas, adding that “If not timely identified and treated, malnutrition has serious and permanent consequences in the growth and development of children.
On his part, Nutrition Manager, UNICEF Maiduguri Office, Mr. Sanjay Kumar Das said UNICEF statistics showed that 1 out of 2 child deaths under the age of 5 is attributed to malnutrition.
“In 2018 we admitted 440,000 children that were malnourished, in 2019, we had 321,000 diagnosed with malnutrition and in 2020, we are estimating about 229,000 will be diagnosed with malnutrition. So if you see the trend point from 2018 to 2019 to 2020, you will see that the trend is coming down.”