CSOs meet political parties’ leaders on tackling severe acute malnutrition

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Leaders of some civil society organisations (CSOs) and political parties, on Wednesday, met in Abuja with the aim of tackling the severe acute malnutrition (SAM) faced by some children under five in Nigeria.

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The high-level dialogue session, organised by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC), was aimed at seeing how political parties could influence the operationalisation of an effective primary healthcare that would ensure the prevention and treatment of SAM in the country.

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Mr Auwal Musa-Rafsanjani, Executive Director, CISLAC, expressed concern that annually, about 2.6 million Nigerian children under-five suffer from severe acute malnutrition.

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‘’This dialogue provides the platform to harness commitments and discuss a common problem that has annually made 2.6 million Nigerian children under- five suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition.

‘’It also exposes 520,000 of them to early death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria.

‘’You would agree with me that these indices are unfavourable and unacceptable,” he said.

Musa-Rafsanjani, who was represented by CISLAC board member, Hajia Hadiza Kangiwa, noted that political parties played a big role in influencing policy implementation and development agenda.

 ‘’The National Nutrition and Health Survey (NNHS) 2018 shows that the highest prevalence of global acute malnutrition based on Middle Upper Arm circumference (MUAC) was reported in Zamfara (10,3%).

‘’It was followed by Katsina with 8.5% and Sokoto with 8.4%, while the lowest was recorded in Imo with 0.8%, followed by Anambra with 1.3%, Bayelsa with 1.9%.

‘’Delta followed with 2% with zero percent Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) with very little variability; Kaduna with 2.4%, Jigawa 2.1%, Katsina, Sokoto and Yobe 2% recorded the highest SAM rates.”

He said CISLAC, in the last quarter of 2018, had series of engagement with the executives, legislators, CSOs and media at state and national levels to advocate for increase budgetary allocation, accountability and transparency for nutrition in northern Nigeria.

‘’These efforts recorded some tremendous commitments at state levels, with states like Bauchi releasing the sum of 108 million, Katsina250 million, Kaduna 200 million, and Nasarawa 10 million for the procurement of RUTF.

‘’And recently, the Federal Ministry of Health released the sum of 1.2 billion Naira (beyond the budget of 400 million).

‘’Gombe state released 70 million and Niger state 20 million (from 1.2 billion Naira) for the procurement of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).

‘’However, we urge states like Sokoto and Kano to make releases what they committed to make,” he said.

National Chairman, Inter-Party Advisory Council Nigeria (IPAC), Chief Peter Ameh, who spoke on behalf of political parties’ leaders, corroborated that political parties needed to be carried along if the project was to be a success.

 ‘’Nothing works except political parties are involved because there is no government without a political party. The only way to governance in Nigeria of today is through political parties,” he said.

He attributed the problem of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) in the country to the collapse of local government system.

‘’The major issue we have with malnutrition in Nigeria is that we are looking outside the box without looking at the fundamental issues that are responsible for non-functionality of our healthcare system.

‘’The local government system is virtually responsible for how primary healthcare will be more driven in the grassroots, how primary healthcare will be more affordable and effective.

‘’The failure and collapse of the local government system in Nigeria is the reason for the failure of the primary healthcare,” he said.

According to IPAC chair, as we speak, we have no local government structure in Nigeria; it is majorly run by the emperors, the governors.

Ameh, who described the development as sad, said ‘’we must collectively work to give a system for the local governments in Nigeria.”

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