Nigeria: Malnutrition Cases On The Rise In Gombe Due To Non Release Of Funds

By Auwal Mohammed

Gombe (Nigeria) — Northern Nigeria has been described as the most affected with malnutrition in Nigeria. According to NDHS 2013 report, malnutrition is more critical in North West and North East with a global acute malnutrition prevalence of 13 and 12 per cent respectively.

The other four zones in the country, according to the report, have  global acute malnutrition prevalence were all below 5 per cent, and severe acute malnutrition below 2 per cent.

The creation of community Management of Acute Malnutrition, CMAM, in eighteen Health centres in four local government areas of Nafada, Dukku, Gombe and Kaltungo of Gombe State, northeast Nigeria in 2009 has contributed immensely to the fight against malnutrition where women advocate to one another to engage themselves with CMAM.

Our investigation revealed that non released of funds by the state government to the all line ministries, agencies and Departments for malnutrition treatment has made the situation very alarming.

During a visit to some of the community Management of Acute Malnutrition, CMAM, apart from poor equipments, there was total absence of trained health workers such as Midwives, Nurses and Doctors to handle critical and emergency cases.

The approved budget in 2016 and 2017, allocated to the health sector is grossly inadequate. From 2016 analyses, the percentage allocated to health was 9.7 per cent. This was grossly inadequate, looking at the growth rate of 3.2 per cent and the influx of internally displaced persons in the state.

Findings revealed that Gombe State is doing very poorly in the area of exclusive breast feeding, whereby mothers give only breast milk to children in the first six months, with statistics showing that only eight per cent of children in the state are exclusively breast fed.

Exclusive breastfeeding for children from birth to eighteen or twenty four months is important because it contains all the nutrients needed by a child as the intestine is not strong enough for any other substance.

Detailed statistics released by the Gombe State Nutrition Officer, Suleiman Mamman, revealed that from January to December 2016, a total of 13,059 children (6,483 male and 6,570 females) aged 6 – 59 months were admitted out of which 11,031 were treated, 833 defaulted, 149 non-recovered and 105 died.

Mamman said, from January to June this year, 6,330 malnourished children were admitted, 4,470 treated, 25 deaths while 101 defaulted, their major challenge was the inability to go round and monitor health centres operating CMAM programmes.

He explained that transporting of RUTF to CMAM centres in operating local government areas, as well as manpower on nutrition programme were part of the challenges.

Speaking to Journalists, the Chairman, Gombe State Primary Health Care Development Agency, GSPHCDA, Yahya Hammari, urged the State government to increase its budgetary allocation to the health sector, in order to ensure proper development of the state.

He enjoined the government to ensure timely release of all budgetary allocations so as to improve the health indices of the state, especially in relation to Malnutrition, family Planning and maternal, newborn and adolescent health.

He said the government needed to make health its top priority, stressing that the population cannot adequately exploit the opportunities provided by education or develop meaningfully without being in the right frame of mind.

The Chairman further drew the government’s attention to do the right thing now that most of the international donors, which make up for some of the lapses in the health sector were at the verge of leaving the country.

Some of the development partners who spoke to our correspondent urged the State government to release funds allocated for food and nutrition in this year’s budget, to reduce the increasing rate of malnutrition in the state.

Dr. Raymond Dankoli of the World Health Organisation, Gombe office, said, nutrition programme or provision of food was not part of their mandate in the state, but provide support for supervision through immunization.

He said malnutrition was on the increase and the government needed to do more to tackle the menace in the state.

Also speaking, the State UNICEF Nutrition Consultant, Olufumilayo Adebambo, said, UNICEF, in collaboration with the state government, provided the Ready to use Therapeutic Foods, RUTF, since the commencement of the nutrition programme in the state in 2009.

She added that last year, the state government provided 17 million naira as counterpart funding and UNICEF put 83 million naira for the purchase of the Ready to use Therapeutic Foods RUTF in the state.

Also, the State Programme Manager of Save the Children International, Altine Lewi, advocated for the scaling up of the nutrition programme to the remaining seven local government areas of the state and the need to increase in budgetary allocation for nutrition from one hundred and twenty million naira budgeted this year.

She added that the creation of budget allocation and timely release of funds to some key ministries and agencies of the state to fight against the disease would reduce the spread of the scourge.

The Permanent Secretary, Gombe State Ministry of Economic Planning, Mr. Steven Ayuba, said the ministry had a budget line on nutrition for the last four years, with some funds being allocated but was fluctuating due to some challenges which from last year they try to address.

All the Coordinating Ministries and Agencies in the aspect of Nutrition in the State decried non-release of funds budgeted for nutrition activities as the major issue affecting the treatment of the disease in the state.

Other factors include non-inclusion of nutrition intervention funds to coordinating ministries and agencies, refusal to scale up the programme in the remaining seven local government areas of the state, lack of sensitization and awareness.

Others are  poverty and cultural beliefs, as well as non-improvement on the Community Infant and Young Child Feeding.

Investigations revealed that the Gombe State government in 2009 played a key role in supplying routine drugs in ensuring the fight against malnutrition before declining in 2012 to date.

Posted by on 08/09/2017. Filed under Development, Health, News, Special. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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