…We have zero tolerance to malnutrition- Moji
By Hassan Zaggi
Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) in partnership with other Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), have called on the federal and states governments to increase their commitment in funding nutrition in the country.
The Executive Director of CISLAC, Auwal Ibrahim Musa (Rafsanjani), made the call at a high-level dialogue with political parties, CSOs, and media on effective primary health care, prevention and treatment of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM), in Abuja, yesterday.
Represented by a member of the board of CISLAC, Hadiza Kangiwa, Rafsanjani called on Sokoto and Kano state governments to make releases they committed to make for the procurement of the Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) for the treatment of malnourished children.
He expressed concern that with malnutrition rates currently declining at an annual average rate of just 3.1 percent, “Nigeria is not on track to achieve the SDG target of a 40 percent reduction of stunting by 2025, for which the rate of decline must increase to 5.5 percent.”
While explaining the rationale behind the engagement with the political parties, Rafsanjani said: “You will agree with me that political parties play a big role in influencing policy implementation and development agenda.
“However, this is not attainable in Nigeria as political parties are now shields used by politicians to achieve self-centered interest which most times are undemocratic and against the rule of law.
“That role of political parties and politicians are to formulate laws and policies that would better the lives of people and ensure implementation upon assumption of office.
“Malnutrition is a development problem that is of public health concern and the danger is that it is a silent killer and must be addressed by political parties as they house and produce current and next leaders.
“Political parties must ensure that credible candidates are elected to vie for elections. These persons must be technocrats and uncorrupt individuals who will play a role in eradicating development problems such as malnutrition and addressing all other issues therein.”
He, however, lamented that Nigeria still remains backward with high number of malnourished and stunted children because of “monumental corruption and kleptocratic governance; a nation with the highest number of people living under the extreme poverty level in the world”
He charged governments at all levels to take the needed steps to address the malnutrition situation in the country, adding that: “Our children must not be allowed to die from malnutrition and other illnesses. Government must take up the responsibility of adequately and sustainably fund nutrition and ensure these children are fit for purpose in the society.”
On her part, the Executive Director of International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH), Moji Makanjuola, insisted that no Nigerian child should be allowed to suffer or die as a result of malnutrition.
“We have zero tolerance to Nigerian children being malnourished,” she reiterated.
While regretting that Nigeria has the highest number of stunted children, Mrs Makanjuola, noted that there is the need to “continually bring to the fore the severity of these conditions, especially the children that are severely acutely malnourished.
“We are beginning to see good signs. We have it in good authority that some states are beginning to pay in their counterpart funding for the RUTF needed for children for treatment. We are not there yet, we know that some state governments are coming alive to their responsibilities.
“We are pleased about what the federal government is doing, paying that huge sums of money to the tune of 2b naira to UNICEF to ensure that RUTF are available for our children that are in the good condition. Our plea is that it should not be a one-off. It should be a continuum.”