By Asma’u Ahmad
The Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) has called on the Niger State government to as a matter of urgency to ensure the timely release of funds budgeted for nutrition in its 2018 budget as well as effective and efficient ulitization of such funds.
Executive Secretary, CS-SUNN, Mrs Beatrice Eluaka made the call during a one day media engagement meeting on Partnership for Improved Nigeria Nutrition Systems (PINNS) issues.
He called for action to improve salience of nutrition policy and funding on the agenda of the state held last Tuesday.
Mrs Beatrice said out of the N137.7 million budgeted for nutrition activities in the 2018 budget for nutrition, nothing is release as at September.
She stated that the media engagement was aimed at drawing the attention of the state government to the fact that the burden of malnutrition in the state was so huge compared with nutrition allocation and the attendant non releases of allocated funds.
She added that the situation would make it impossible to reverse the disturbing statistics on malnutrition in the state.
She said available data from the National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS 2014 and 2015) indicated marginal rise in the state malnutrition burden which she noted continue to be a key contributor to infant and maternal mortality and morbidity, poor cognitive development and increased severity to disease adversely affecting under 5 children in the state.
The ES said the NNHS reported in 2014 a stunting rate of 35.4 percent while underweight and wasting rates were put at 17.5 percent and 4.6 percent respectively while in 2015, stunting rate increased to 38 percent, wasting 6.1 percent with underweight reducing slightly to 17.3 percent.
Mrs Eluaka said in combating malnutrition in the state, the government need to provide clarity in budgeting for nutrition to include preventive interventions such as promoting nutrition education to ensure infant and young child feeding practices, stanle food fortification and maternal nutrition programme.
She said these measures would help prevent more children from becoming malnourished and ensure that cured malnourished children do not relapse upon discharged from treatment centers.
She commended the state government on its effort in the fight against malnutrition and said CS-SUNN whose vision is to transform Nigeria into a country where every citizen has food and is nutrition secured through strengthening the country’s nutrition systems to make them more result driven, effective, serviceable, efficient and transparent was willing to work with the government in ensuring that citizens especially children under 5 are safe from the dangers of malnutrition.
Speaking during his presentation on the Nigeria/Niger State malnutrition challenges, Mr. Felix Tyover Igba, vice chairman, CS-SUNN Niger chapter said looking at the WHO classification of malnutrition prevelence rate and what was acceptable, he noted the prevelence rates of stunting, wasting and underweight were unacceptable.
Mr. Felix Igba called on the media as the fourth estate of the relm to step up reportage of nutrition issues to attract policy makers and concern stakeholders to take the right step towards curbing malnutrition in the state.