Acute malnutrition: How UNICEF’s intervention saved 3-months- old ‘abandoned’ child

October 21st, 2019

By Hassan Zaggi

Mohammed, a 3-months- old child from Kaburi in Dikwa Local Government Area of Borno state was abandoned by his mother as a result of family squabbles.

Trouble started for little Mohammed when his father divorced his mother due to unresolved differences.

Angered by the action of her husband, Mohammed’s mother insisted that she cannot keep the child belonging to her former husband, hence, she refused to listen to plea by neighbors and relatives.

Out of protest, Mohammed’s mother took him to his grandfather, dropped him, and went her way.

Few months after little Mohammed was abandoned, Boko Haram terrorists attacked Dikwa LGA and displaced the Mohammed’s grandfather. He then relocated to Bolori Herwa site Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp.

Little Mohammed was however, acutely malnourished to the point of death.

Responding to questions, Mohammed’s grandfather, Ali, disclosed that his grandson took ill and loss weight for many months.

Ali stated this when journalists were in Maiduguri for a two-day Department for International Development’s (DfID) funded media dialogue on integrated and timely response to nutrition-related humanitarian needs, recently.

DfID is currently working to detect emerging/deteriorating nutrition-related crises in Borno through an agile nutrition surveillance system and provide timely response through the implementation of an integrated basic nutrition package.

DfID will spent a whooping 36 million dollars between April 2019- March 2022, to fund the project in Borno state.

According to Ali: “We tried all form of traditional treatment but to no avail. The child almost died in my hand because we did not know what exactly was wrong with him.

“However, one day, a UNICEF staff came to our IDPs Camp and told me that my grandson is suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition and that he needs urgent treatment. He took us to a treatment centre and gave him treatment for 8 weeks. My grandson became normal and as you can see him, he is now three years old and doing well.”

Confirming the story, a UNICEF staff in Maiduguri office who pleaded anonymity showed journalists the horrific picture of little Mohammed when he was acutely malnourished and how he has recovered after receiving treatment for 8 weeks at the Community based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) site.

According to a Nutrition Officer at the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Borno office, Aminu Usman, in 2019, an estimated 440,000 boys and girls under the age of 5 in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states will suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).

He further disclosed that the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) among boys and girls aged below 5 years is 11% in Borno, 13% in Yobe and 6% Adamawa.

He, however, lamented that inaccessibility to some areas due insecurity has made the “situation even worse in Rann (Kala Balge), south Yobe, Magumeri, Jere and Konduga LGAs.

“The poor nutrition situation is further exacerbated by poor food security situation, sub-optimal water, hygiene and sanitation practices and high disease burden.”

Usman revealed that an estimated 258,950 boys and girls will suffer from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in 2020 in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states and that 5 billion naira is needed to necessitate the procurement of 258,950 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for SAM treatment.

According to him: “Funding has been secured for 29,314 cartons of RUTF, there is a funding gap of 4.4 billion naira for the procurement of 229,636 cartons of RUTF.

“Influx of Internally Displaced Persons (new arrivals) may also further exacerbate the already poor nutrition situation.

“The affected community coping mechanisms is still low, and any shock will result in further deterioration of nutrition status and so, it is important to have a robust contingency plan.”

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