By Asma’u Ahmad
The Federal Ministry of Health has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with UNICEF, for the procurement of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).
RUTF is an energy dense, micro nutrient enhanced paste, used in therapeutic feeding.
The typical primary ingredients for RUTF include Peanuts, oil, sugar, milk powder, vitamin and mineral supplements which provide all the nutrients required for recovery.
Mr Oshundun Olajide, Assistant Director Media and Public Relations said in a statement on Wednesday in Abuja that the move was to scale up treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition in Nigeria.
Olajide said the partnership was to serve as counterpart contribution for the procurement and distribution of the commodity in the six Geo- Political Zones of the Country.
He said available data shows that Nigeria has a caseload of about 2.5 million children under the age of five who have severe acute malnutrition.
“If nothing is done, about 20 per cent of these children would die and about 90 per cent of these cases are in Northern Nigeria according to available records,’’ he said.
Olajide quoted the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, as saying that Federal Government has initiated the Community based Management of Severe Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) in Gombe and Kebbi States as pilot scheme.
Adewole noted that the programme has reached 10 other States which include Adamawa, Bauchi, Borno, Jigawa, Kano, Katsina, Kaduna, Sokoto, Yobe and Zamfara.
He said that more than One million cases had been treated with over 850,000 cured, adding that the CMAM Programme in Nigeria has largely been donor driven.
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.
According to the minister, in the 2017 capital appropriation the ministry provided the sum of N1.2 Billion as contribution/Co-funding for UNICEF for the procurement of (RUTF).
He explained of the N1.2 Billion appropriation the sum of N600 Million has been released so far.
In his remarks, UNICEF Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr Mohammed Fall, said Severe Acute Malnutrition treatment services have been mainstreamed into 5 percent (1,200) of health facilities in the entire country.
He added that Severe Acute Malnutrition treatment services have been also been mainstreamed into 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.
He therefore pledged UNICEF’s continuous partnership with the ministry towards improving the nutritional status of women and children in Nigeria.