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COVID-19 and malnutrition in Katsina

Katsina state in Northwest Nigeria is amongst states that are recording high cases of malnutrition among zero to five (0-5) years old children.

Even before the outbreak of COVID-19, official records from office of the state’s nutrition officer shows that in 2019 there were more than one million (1,000,000.) Children under 5 who are stunted, and more than two hundred thousand ( 200,000.) Under 5 children who are suffering from acute malnutrition.

The record also shows that mothers are not left out of the malnutrition challenges, as more than seventy percentage (70%) have anemia. While twelve percent (12%) of women were suffering from acute malnutrition, and high rate of iron deficiency anemia contributed to more than twenty percent (20%) maternal mortality in Katsina state.

From all indications, the outbreak of COVID-19 has impacted negatively on the initial measures put in place to address problems associated with malnutrition.

Investigation by Radio Nigeria revealed that majority of children suffering from malnutrition, who are registered at treatment centres, were not attended to during the COVID 19 lockdown.

Also prior to the pandemic, there was shortage or total lack of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food, RTUTF, in most of the community Management of Acute Malnutrition CMAM Centres in the state.

The Katsina state Nutrition Officer, Abdulhadi Abdulkadir said there was a sensitization campaign during the COVID 19 pandemic on the need to address challenges of malnutrition by using locally sourced food items.

The measures, according to him, assisted in reducing the increasing number of malnourished children.

Proper medical examination

What remains a major challenge is the absence of regular and proper medical examination for many of the children who are suffering from severe accute malnutrition.

The Katsina state Budget for the year 2020 indicated that more than Two Hundred and Fifty million naira (N250m) was budgeted for the Procurement of RUTF, while more than One Hundred and Eighty Two Million naira (N182m) was budgeted for other nutrition activities.

Late release of funds or cash backing still remains a major challenge. To this end, the state’s Commissioner for Budget and Economic Planning, Faruq Jobe has assured timely release of the Funds.

He gave the assurance when members of Civil Society Organizations visited his office for an advocacy visit towards proper and timely Funding for Nutrition.

By Muhammad Awwal.

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