A report jointly released by UNICEF and the Federal Government of Nigeria recently revealed that about 1.7 million Nigerian children are severely malnourished and in dire need of urgent attention to avert the situation. This currently accounts for a tenth of the global figure.
‘Nearly a thousand Nigerian children die of malnutrition-related causes every day – a total of 361,000 each year. Acute malnutrition also leads to stunting of children, causing life-long physical limitations and can reduce intellectual capacity,’ said UNICEF country representative to Nigeria, Dr. Suomi Sakai.
They are therefore advocating for the implementation of Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) which treats acutely malnourished children from six months to five years old on an out-patient basis. More than 830,000 children have been cured by the programme, with the cure rate rising steadily, currently standing at 85%. Of the remaining children, about 2% do not respond to treatment and are referred to hospital; the current mortality rate is 1%, while the other children have defaulted from the programme altogether.
The cost for CMAM is US$160 for each child treated, including $76 for the ready-to-use therapeutic food; the remaining $84 covers all other costs, including staff time and training, transport and storage of supplies, and basic medicines. It was piloted in Gombe and Kebbi States in 2009, and has now been introduced in 11 Northern Nigerian States where malnutrition poses the greatest threat.