Wife of Kaduna State Governor, Hajia Hadiza El-Rufai has said the State would embark on drastic action to combat poor nutrition indices within its special programme for adequate healthcare system. The Kaduna state first lady declared this at a Sensitization Meeting on Nutrition organized in Kaduna by Civil Society-Scaling up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) under the aegis of Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PACFaH).
Hajia El-Rufai, who was represented by Wife of the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Ladi Barnabas Bala Bantex, lamented that malnutrition among children constitutes 50% of the underlying causes of many communicable and non-communicable life-threatening diseases, in addition to the high level morbidity and mortality in the State.
She reiterated that, “Recent surveys have shown that 57% of children are malnourished and 41.7% of them are severely stunted in Kaduna state. Micronutrients deficiency such as Vitamin A and iodine is also common among these children (27.8%) due to poor intake”.
According to her “These poor nutrition indices will not be accepted. Appropriate actions must be taken without delay to drastically reduce the incidences, and this administration has special passion for health and education.”
The Governor’s wife noted that within the few months of inception of the administration, N180 million and N55 million were released to improve coverage of Routine Immunization and to double the number of secondary facilities (General Hospitals) providing rehabilitation of severe acutely malnourished children (from 6-12), respectively.
In a similar vein, a recent survey conducted by CS-SUNN in Kaduna state, shows that 57% of children are malnourished and 41.7% of them are severely stunted. The survey also suggested that micronutrients deficiency such as Vitamin A and iodine is also common among these children (27.8%) due to poor intake. The malnutrition has also affected women significantly as 6.2% of women in Kaduna state are malnourished and 23.4% have deficiency in iron, the survey revealed. This indeed has disturbing implication considering the fact that women menstruate monthly and bear children.
The Chairman Steering Committee, CS-SUNN, Prof. Ngozi Nnam, also explained that malnutrition and nutrition-related diseases remain major problems to effective public health care system in Kaduna state with under-five mortality rate unacceptably high at 169 per 1,000 live births. She also stated that poor nutrition in the first 1,000 days of a child’s life can lead to stunted growth.
According to her “The main indicator for malnutrition is stunting, when children are too short for their age. Stunted children have poor physical growth which is irreversible and associated with poor brain development with reduced school and work performance. In Kaduna, the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) Results of 2013, reported prevalence of stunting at 56.6%, underweight 57.6%, and Wasting 42% in children under five years old. This means Kaduna with 56.6% of stunting has the third highest number of stunted children under-5 years of age in Nigeria after Kebbi with 61% and Katsina and Jigawa with 59% respectively,” she noted.
Prof. Nnam urged effective implementation of the National Strategic Plan of Action for Nutrition (NSPAN 2014-2019) at every level, with emphasis on maternal and child nutrition; increased funding for maternal and child nutrition at the Ministries of Health. She also called on improvement in Agriculture and other relevant sectors in Kaduna State including good budgetary allocation and timely release of funds for maternal and Child nutrition practices and interventions, at state and local government levels.
Meanwhile the cheering news is that Kaduna state Commissioner for health Prof. Jonathan Andrew NOk, recently revealed that the state governor has approved a budget line on nutrition presently in full operation in the state. He confirmed that, the state ministry of health as adopted the national strategic plan of action on nutrition which is presently in implementation.