The Federal Government of Nigeria has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (Mou) with the United Nations International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), for the procurement of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).The partnership is to serve as counterpart contribution for the procurement and distribution of the commodity in the six Geo- Political Zones of the Country.
It is estimated that there is presently a caseload of about 2.5 million children under the age of five who have severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria currently. If nothing is done, about 20% of these children would die and about 90% of these cases are in Northern Nigeria according to available records.
Speaking at the event in Abuja recently, Minister of Health, Professor Isaac Adewole, said that the Federal Government through Ministry of Health has initiated the Community based Management of Severe Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in Gombe and Kebbi States as pilot scheme.
Prof. Adewole noted that the programme has reached 10 other States, namely: - Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara, adding that ‘’ the whole idea which is on-going, was to cover the six Geo Political Zones in Nigeria.
He further said that more than One million cases had been treated with over 850,000 cured. Adewole added that the CMAM Programme in Nigeria has largely been donor driven.
He informed that RUTF is an energy dense, micronutrient enhanced paste, used in therapeutic feeding and that typical primary ingredients for RUTF include: Peanuts, oil, sugar, milk powder, vitamin and mineral supplements which provide all the nutrients required for recovery.
He also said that government was committed in its effort to scale up the treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) across the country and especially in the northern Nigeria.
Consequently, the Federal Ministry of Health (FMOH) provided in the 2017 capital appropriation the sum of N1.2 Billion as contribution /Co-funding for UNICEF for the procurement of (RUTF) adding that the sum of N600 Million has been released so far.
Professor Adewole commended the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF) and UNICEF for their financial and technical support to the CMAM programme.
In his remarks, the UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr. Mohammed Fall, said that Severe Acute Malnutrition treatment (SAM) services have been mainstreamed into 5 percent (1,200) of health facilities in the entire country and to 15 percent of the total number of health facilities in the 12 Northern States where the situation is most dire.
He further said that Nigeria has the potential to do more by increasing its investments in nutrition and help to secure the health and well-being of mothers and children. This, he said, would lead to better economic growth for the country.
He further pledged UNICEF’s continuous partnership with FMOH towards improving the nutritional status of women and children in Nigeria.
Speaking earlier, the Head, Nutrition Division, FMOH, Dr. Chris Isopunwu, said the signing of the MoU was a major landmark towards addressing the issue of Malnutrition, because it accounts for more than 50% of under – five deaths in Nigeria.