By Chimezie Godfrey, Abuja
The Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre,(CISLAC) has called on the federal and state governments to take advantage of the development partners’ matching funds for nutrition before its expiration on December 31st 2018.
This call was made on Tuesday at Abuja during a press conference organized by CISLAC, on the Status of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) Treatment in Nigeria and the human rights of the Nigerian child.
According to CISLAC Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Officer, Lovelyn Agbor Gabriel, while malnutrition constitutes a serious setback to social-economic development of a nation, sustainable growth in Nigeria cannot be achieved without prioritized attention to scale-up and sustain investment for nutrition, with focus on prevention and treatment of Severe Acute malnutrition (SAM).
She said that malnutrition by implication, increases susceptibility to infection, slow recovery from illness, low quality breast-milk, retards physical and cognitive development. She added that an estimated 2.5 million Nigerian children under-five suffer from SAM annually, exposing nearly 420,000 children under-five to death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhea, pneumonia and malaria.
It is against this backdrop that CISLAC, along with other partners, is implementing a nutrition advocacy focusing on prevention and treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in nine (9) northern states which are Bauchi, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kano, Katsina, Nasarawa, Niger, Sokoto, and at the federal level.
The M & E Officer, pointed out that adequate nutrition status constitutes component of the rights of a child as enshrined under section 13 (1) of the Child Right Act 2013 which provides for every child to enjoy the best attainable state of physical, mental and spiritual health.
While noting that while adequate and optimal health care delivery constitutes a component of governance and national development in Nigeria, adequate access to primary health care services is hindered by attitudes of healthcare personnel, low maintenance culture, ill-equipped and poor infrastructural services, exacerbating maternal and child mortality and morbidity across the country.
On the commitment of Nigerian Government both at the federal and state levels to acknowledging provision of effective Primary Health Care as “greater challenge” for the nation as a whole, she said that there is the need to take concrete actions before 31st December, 2018 to avoid missing out on the matching funds.
Gabriel said, “In order to address the malnutrition scourge across the country, we therefore call on the government at all levels especially in the nine states mentioned above to take opportunity of the available matching funds by development partners before its expiration date of 31st December, 2018 to release the funds committed to treatment of SAM in the 2018 budget, and introduce treatment of SAM in the 2019 budget under consideration.
“Subsequently, prioritize the establishment of Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) programs in the state through existing policies implementation, adequate budgetary allocation, timely releases, cash backing and utilization of funds, as well as oversight activities.
“Strengthen relevant committees at the National and State Houses of Assemblies with special focus on nutrition to give desired attention to malnutrition with adequate and sustainable provision of resources to Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF), routine drugs and complimentary commodities.
“Prioritize full implementation of the national Health Act 2014 to promote adequate, accessible and affordable Primary Health Care for effective delivery of CMAM and other nutrition services.
“Increase focus on prevention, such as community-based approach, while galvanizing curative effort towards addressing existing malnutrition status in the country.
“Support Early Child Development Centers across the country to sustain nutrition interventions in the presence of dwindling donor resources.
“Ensure full implementation of Child Right Act to effect adequate nutrition status as a child Right. We remain committed to monitoring government at all levels to ensure that she fulfils her promises to citizens, especially the children of our great country.”
The Executive Director, CISLAC, Auwal Musa Ibrahim Rafsanjani, while fielding questions from journalists equally called on the state and federal governments to as matter of urgency take advantage of the available matching funds that will soon expire by 31st December, 2018.
“We just want to draw the attention of the government. This is supposed to be a period that people are suppose to go for holiday but because of the urgency and importance of this deadline expiration which is 31st December, we felt we have an obligation as an advocacy organization, an organization that is concerned on human right issues to make our government responsive and responsible to take advantage of the available matching fund so that they can actually commit the resources to save our children from dying,” he concluded.