No fewer than 35,000 children suffering from moderate malnutrition will benefit from a United Nations Children’s Fund five-year programme.
The UNICEF’s initiative is aimed at tackling malnutrition in babies between six and 24 months.
UNICEF through the initiative will provide nutritional supplement formula to moderately malnourished children in Gombe to improve their nutritional status and also prevent their condition from degenerating into severe acute malnutrition.
The initiative is tagged Progressive Action on Resilient System for Nutrition through Innovation and Partnership.
UNICEF disclosed this during the opening ceremony of a training workshop for community and health workers in Gombe.
Speaking shortly before the commencement of the workshop, a Nutrition Specialist from the UNICEF Bauchi Field Office, Philomena Irene, said the intervention programme would hold first in two Local Government Areas; Kwami and Kaltungo.
She added that the capacity-building workshop is geared towards empowering healthcare, community workers with the requisite knowledge to manage moderately malnourished children.
According to her, moderately malnourished children are in greater number compared to those with severe malnutrition.
She said, “We will be teaching the health workers how to manage moderate acute malnutrition with a new commodity called Small Quantity Lipid-Based Nutrient Supplement (SQ-LNS) formula.
“That is in Kwami and Kaltungo LGA. We will be linking that with the appropriate maternal, infant, and young child feeding in the state.
“We will also be empowering the mothers with the capacity to detect malnutrition at the unset so that they don’t present to the health facility when the cases are in the worse form.
“With this, we are hoping that we will be able to reach 35,000 children that are at the age between 6 to 24 months in Gombe state, particularly in the two LGAs, while we will also teach the mothers, appropriate diets and also appropriate complementary food for those children.
“All this while, we have been treating severe acute malnutrition, children who are on the red list but now we want to look at children who are on the yellow range, there are more children who are on yellow than red in Gombe State. Our focus now is prevention.”
Also speaking at the workshop, State Nutrition Officer Gombe, Ronas Amusa, revealed that based on the 2018 survey, the state is grappling with a high stunting rate, adding that collaborative efforts can help change the situation.
Amusa said, “The problem we have in this state is stunting, the stunting rate is 44.6 per cent according to the 2018 National Nutrition Health Survey. This survey was, however, done in 2018. There is no recent one at the moment.
“We want to prevent children from becoming severely malnourished. The small quantity lipid-based nutrients supplement will help to treat those who are moderately malnourished.”
Commenting on the difference between this intervention and previous ones from UNICEF, “Before, we were doing infant and young child feeding, without consideration for the moderately malnourished children. Now, we have supplements. Also, for those that are already severe we give them Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF),” she added.
On her part, Director Community and Family Health, Gombe State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr. Maryam Abubakar said the state overtime has managed malnutrition.
“We don’t want to micronutrient to prevent. In situations when we get children that are malnourished, we shall still go ahead and treat them.
“However, now we have a micronutrient powder that will be given to children who are healthy, we don’t want a child who is sick to take the micronutrient powder but those who are healthy,” Abubakar said.
SOURCE: THE PUNCH