UNICEF says Nigeria requires 85.5 million U.S. dollars to address malnutrition of about two million children in dire need of treatment.
Mrs Philomena Irene, UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Bauchi Zone, disclosed this at a media dialogue held on Wednesday in Yola with the theme “Investing in Child’s Malnutrition for the Future”.
Irene noted that the treatment of a malnourished child with Ready-To-Use-Therapeutic-Food (RUTF) would span through eight to 12 weeks, depending on the severity of the condition.
According to her, not less than 71 U.S. dollars will adequately treat a severely acute malnourished child.
She said that out of the 2.5 million malnourished children recorded in the country only 500,000 have so far been treated.
The specialist said that the interventions provided by UNICEF include prevention and treatment.
According to her, the collaborative efforts of government agencies will go a long way to address the existing nutrition gap of two million children in dire need of special interventions including RUTF.
“Malnutrition is an emergency that required multi-sectoral approach and collaborative efforts of government and donor agencies, among others.
“No child should be left to die and government at all levels should act by setting aside budget line geared toward the purchase of RUTF and other nutrition interventions.
“There should be a specific budget line at the Ministries of Health, Agriculture, Education, Budget and National Planning, among others, and timely releases of such funds.
“With these efforts, the burden would be reduced drastically,” she said.
Irene decried the burden of malnutrition in the country in spite of an abundance of resources, blaming this on misplacement of priority, lack of commitment and ignorance of the caregivers.
Earlier, the Zonal UNICEF Communication Officer, Mr Sam Kaalu, identified the objectives of the meeting to include sensitising the media about nutrition crisis in the country and issues of children’s well-being and survival.
Kaalu said it was also aimed at acquainting the media with knowledge and materials to support advocacy for child nutrition, among others.