Adamawa under-five children nine times likely to die than other kids – UNICEF

Over 34,000 children are severely malnourished in Adamawa State, North East Nigeria, due to Boko Haram insurgency, according to a survey by the United Nations Children Education Fund.

Philomena Irene, a nutritionist, disclosed this during a one-day awareness workshop on the dangers of malnutrition, organised for journalists in the state.

Mrs. Irene said the UNICEF report showed that 87 per cent of children under five years old in the state were malnourished as a result of poor feeding and lack of exclusive breastfeeding by mothers, particularly those staying in the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps in different parts of the country.

The children were nine times likely to die than normal children, if adequate measures were not taken to check the trend, Mrs Irene said.

“The situation gets worse when mothers of malnourished children hide their children by covering them with big clothes, instead of taking them to the nearest primary health clinic for nutrition specialist services,” she said.

Mrs. Irene said 82 per cent of children under the age of six months old in the state do not get exclusive breastfeeding which is the most cost effective intervention to prevent malnutrition and save lives.

“There are still 62,344 children in need of treatment who are not reached,” she said, adding that 12, 000 severely malnourished children were treated in 2015, with the assistance of the Adamawa state government.

To tackle the problem, Mrs. Irene said there was need for capacity-building for health workers and community volunteers in the areas of micro nutrient intervention and treatment of malnutrition pregnant and breastfeeding mothers.

The UNICEF Bauchi field media officer, Samuel Kalu, who also spoke at the workshop, said the Standardized Monitory Assessment Relief and Transition (SMART) in 2015, showed that 66.8 per cent of children between six months and five years old in Adamawa do not receive Vitamin A supplementation.

Mr. Kalu said 56,976 pregnant women in the state do not take Iron supplements, and that 117,000 women of child bearing age in the state were acutely malnourished.

He listed the progress made so far in the state to include the treatment of over 35,000 severely malnourished children, and saving the lives of 16,016 children since 2011 in 62 community-based management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) sites, established with the support of UNICEF.

Mr. Kalu said, “Over 12,000 severely malnourished children treated in 2015 alone and Vitamin A provided to 682,823 children during the January 2016 round of Maternal and New-born Child Health Week, while 149,459 (72 per cent) pregnant women received iron folate tablets during the January 2016 MNCH week.”

UNICEF commended the Adamawa State government for the procurement of Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) and high energy foods for the treatment of severely malnourished children and pregnant and breastfeeding women in the state.

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