No fewer than sixty-eight (68) children have died as a result of severe acute malnutrition in Niger state.
The Niger state Nutrition Officer, Hajiya Asmau Mohammed disclosed this at a two-day review meeting on allocation, releases, and utilization of nutrition budget with key stakeholders from the Legislature and Nutrition Line Ministries in Niger state organized by the Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN).
It would be recalled that in March, the state Nutritionist had said that 46 deaths had been recorded from October 2019 to March 2020.
Speaking to Nutrition stakeholders during the review meeting, MOHAMMED said that the deaths occurred in the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) centre And Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) centres in the state.
She said that the centres had recorded 3999 admissions of malnutrition cases with over 397 defaulters.
Giving the breakdown, she said that the CMAM Center in Mariga during the period under review got a total admission of 3,595 discharging 3,135 adding that there were 379 defaulters and 35 death.
In the SAM Centers which is in seven secondary health facilities across the state, there was total admission of 404 with 298 discharged adding that 55 are currently on admission and there have been 18 defaulters and 33 deaths.
The Nutrition Officer who commended the government for the release of funds for nutrition in the state said that there has been an improvement in the releases of funds but stated that more needs to be done in order for the state to get away from the negative indices of malnutrition.
The Executive Director of the Niger state Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Ibrahim Dangana stated that the activities of the Agency have been severely hampered by the non-release of funds.
He said that there are no adequate logistics to embark on monitoring and evaluation of funds released to primary healthcare centres to ensure that the funds are used judiciously.
Dangana said that the Agency needs motorcycles and Hilux vans to carry out adequate monitoring and evaluation of the services offered and the acceptance of the people towards this serviced.
In his remark, the Speaker of the Niger state House of Assembly, Honorable Abdullahi Bawa Wuse stated his support towards ensuring that there is an improvement in the funding and release of nutrition budget in the state.
The Project Manager of Civil Society Scaling-up Nutrition in Nigeria, C-SUNN National, Okonkwo Sunday stated that one of the critical challenges that drive malnutrition is lack of funding which the pre-budget review meeting seeks to address.
“The truth is that allocations are made but they are not released as at when due and even when little resources are released, sometimes, they are not usually used for what they are supposed to be used for, we are here to look at some of the challenges, proffer solutions, and push that whatever decisions are made should be implemented.”
He said that the objective of the meeting is to resolve the best way to move forward and eradicate malnutrition in the state totally.