By Tina George, Minna
Nigeria still contributes to the highest number of malnourished children in Africa, Nutrition Officers from Niger, Adamawa and Kaduna have disclosed.
Thia was revealed in a two days budget meeting organized by Civil Society Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) in collaboration with PINNS for stakeholders from nutrition line ministries from Niger, Nasarawa and Kaduna States.
During the meeting, at the presentation of the overview of nutrition suituation in the three states, it was glaring that more needs to be done to reduce eradicate malnutrition in the country.
The three states and other states in the country where advised to emulate the Kaduna State Governor, Mallam Nasir El-Rufai by increasing maternity leave to ix months in their states to enable mothers carry out exclusive breastfeeding for six months to reduce the indices of malnutrition.
The Nutrition officers posited that six months maternity leave will help reduce the indices of malnutrition in the country. CS-SUNN appealed for quick release of budgeted funds to carry out nutrition activities in the states to eradicate malnutrition in the states.
In her presentation, the Niger State Nutrition Officer, Hajiya Amina Isah lamented that lack of cash backing for fund releases for nutrition intervention was undermining the ongoing fight against malnutrition in the state.
According to her, the relevant ministries, departments and agencies in Niger state always get funds approval on paper, but cash backing remained a serious problem.
“After getting budget approval, we write memos, get approval, but to get the cash is a very serious issue. This is the area I will really like to see improvement.
“That is why we are here in this meeting with people that matter such as the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Finance and Accountant-General.
“We are equally here with members of the Niger House of Assembly: Deputy Speaker, chairmen House Committees on Finance, Health and Appropriation to garner their support.
“We are hoping that they will understand the magnitude of malnutrition in the state, understand our challenges in accessing funds and support us with the necessary cash backing of fund releases,” she said.
Isah also disclosed that the state has huge number of stunted children with impaired brain development with long term negative effect on the child productivity due to malnutrition.
She also said that a reasonable number of children under five years in the state were acutely malnourished and were 10 times more likely to die than normal children.
The Permanent Secretary of the state’s Ministry of Finance, Mr Mohammed Sadauki, promised to ensure timely cash backing of approved funds for nutrition intervention.
Sadauki also assured that there would be great improvement in cash backing of approved funds in 2020 to enable line agencies implement needed interventions in malnutrition.