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U-Report reaches 2m Nigerians

ITRealms : The UNICEF ’s unique social media platform to engage with communities on issues that affect them, known as  U-Report, now  h...

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Monday, August 17, 2015

Malnutrition: UNICEF saves over 1m under five Nigerian children



The Government of Nigeria and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) through the Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) said they have reached more than a million Nigerian children with a highly successful and cost-effective treatment for acutely malnourished children, saving over 200,000 lives in the past six years, ITRealms reports.  

 About 1.7 million Nigerian children under the age of five years are severely and acutely malnourished, accounting for a tenth of the global total. Nearly a thousand Nigerian children die of malnutrition-related causes every day – a total of 361,000 each year as acute malnutrition also leads to stunting of children causing life-long physical limitations and reduction in intellectual capacity.

According to a release by the Chief of Communication  at UNICEF, Doune Porter, Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) was piloted in Gombe and Kebbi States in 2009 and has now been introduced in 11 northern Nigerian states where malnutrition poses the greatest threat.

CMAM treats acutely malnourished children from six months to five years old on an out-patient basis. More than 830,000 children, ITRealms learnt, have been cured in the programme with the cure rate rising steadily – currently standing at 85 per cent. Of the remaining children, about two per cent do not respond to treatment and are referred to hospitals; the current mortality rate, the report said, is just one per cent, while the other children have defaulted from the programme.

“We must scale-up CMAM in Nigeria. It is a proven high-impact intervention that is saving lives and helping Nigerian children reach their full potential through a good start in life,” noted UNICEF Nigeria Representative Jean Gough. “We need greater investment in Nigeria’s future by investment in good nutrition,” she added.

“The Government of Nigeria is committed to reaching more children with CMAM,” said Linus Awute, Permanent Secretary of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health, “We cannot accept that Nigerian children continue to die of malnutrition and that our potential future leaders should be diminished by its effects.”

CMAM, ITRealms learnt, is carried out during weekly appointments over approximately eight weeks at primary health care centres. It includes education of parents and caregivers on nutrition, the importance of continuing breast-feeding and the role of hand-washing and hygiene. The nutrition status of the children is assessed during the CMAM sessions and children are given a health screening; if necessary, they are also treated for other illnesses. Children are given highly nutritious Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) during the sessions and mothers and caregivers are provided with supplies of RUTF to feed the child at home.

The cost for CMAM is just US$160, about N34,400 for each child treated, including US$76 about N16,340 for the RUTF; the remaining US$84 N18,060 covers all other costs, including staff time and training, transport and storage of supplies, and basic medicines. UNICEF and the Government of Nigeria are scaling up the CMAM response and UNICEF is advocating increased investment in CMAM from both the Government of Nigeria and external donors.

Cyriacus Nnaji/GEE

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Pix:Jean Gough

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