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Nigeria: Unicef Delivers 12,400 Cartoons of Therapeutic Foods to Malnourished Children in Jigawa

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The RUTF is expected to treat 14,000 children with wasting – a condition where a child is too thin for his or her height.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Tuesday handed over 12,400 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) to the Jigawa State Government to help malnourished children in the state.

UNICEF’s head of Advocacy and Media relation, Safiya Akau, in a statement, said the RUTF is expected to treat 14,000 children with wasting – a condition where a child is too thin for his or her height.

She said this initiative, funded through the Child Nutrition Fund (CNF), reinforced the unwavering commitment of both the state government and UNICEF to improving child health in Jigawa.

“Over the past three years, Jigawa State has shown remarkable leadership in nutrition, health, and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) through consistent fund releases, quality service delivery, and creating a strong enabling environment.

“The Child Nutrition Fund (CNF) supported by key donors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), The Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) amongst others and managed by UNICEF, is a unique funding instrument”, Ms Akau said.

She added that by matching government financing of essential nutrition commodities in a 1:1 ratio, governments can double their investment, accelerating the scale-up of policies and programmes for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of malnutrition.

According to the official, Jigawa State was one of the early adopters of the Child Nutrition Fund, releasing N250 million in 2023. UNICEF matched this amount, which enabled the procurement of 12,400 cartons of RUTF.

“This initiative will treat children with severe wasting, marking the largest contribution by any state in Nigeria under the CNF to date”, the official said.

“UNICEF is our key partner, and we are happy to have seen our partnership becoming even stronger. My government is committed to work for improving the nutritional status of women and children of Jigawa State as it is a matter of their fundamental rights,” Ms Akau quoted Jigawa Governor, Umar Namadi, saying in the statement.

Malnutrition in Nigeria is on the rise, driven by conflict, forced displacement, and increasing food insecurity due to limited accessibility and affordability.

Nigeria currently has the highest number of malnourished children in Africa and the second highest globally, with over nine million children affected.

Jigawa faces a high burden of malnutrition, with 64 per cent of children stunted, 9.6 per cent wasted, and 81.9 per cent suffering from anemia, the statement stated.

“Over 80 per cent of children experience food poverty, lacking a diverse diet to support growth and development. Despite these challenges, Jigawa State has been proactive in dealing with the situation,” the official said.

UNICEF say last year, Jigawa procured 4,672 cartons of RUTF, (there are 150 sachets per carton of RUTF) which treated over 5,000 children.

The United Nation organisation also commended the state government for local based initiative in addressing the scourge of malnutrition among children in the state.

“Jigawa’s innovative Masaki Nutrition Programme, with 300 community sites fully funded by the government, focuses on malnutrition prevention. Trained community health workers are deployed across the state, making Jigawa the first state in Nigeria to implement such a community nutrition programme”, the official said.

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, expressed her admiration for Jigawa State’s efforts: “The commitment of Jigawa State under the leadership of the Governor in addressing malnutrition has been exemplary.

“The Child Nutrition Fund has allowed us to double our impact, ensuring that more children receive the life-saving treatment they need. I sincerely hope other state governments will be encouraged by the commitment shown by Jigawa State and invest in the child nutrition fund to address malnutrition in their respective states”, Ms Munduate was quoted in the statement.

Meanwhile, Ms Munduate also announced, that the “UNICEF will provide Multiple Maternal Supplements (MMS) free of cost for pregnant women in Jigawa State to improve pregnancy outcomes”.

“Our commitment to enhancing nutrition and health outcomes for the people of Jigawa, especially women and children, remains steadfast,” Ms Munduate said.

About the Child Nutrition Fund

The Child Nutrition Fund (CNF) is a unique match funding instrument in which UNICEF and its partners match government financing of essential nutrition commodities in a ratio of 1:1.

This enables states increase the number of commodities available for the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition. The CNF helps to contribute to addressing malnutrition by improving access to life-saving nutrition commodities for children and women who need it the most.

To date, five states have provided funds to the CNF, while five others have committed to contributing. 26 states and the FCT are yet to make formal commitments.

By Premium Times.

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