From: Femi Oyelola, Kaduna
A group under the auspices of Civil Society-Scaling Up Nutrition in Nigeria (CS-SUNN) has called on the Kaduna State Government to increase nutrition funding to prevent children from dying of malnutrition in the state.
The Project Assistant, of the Group Mr Kunle Ishola, made the call in Zaria at the end of a two-day Review meeting on allocation, releases and utilisation of nutrition budget.
The meeting was organised by CS-SUNN in partnership with the Planning and Budget Commission (PBC) and Save the Children International (SCI).
Ishola said that available record showed that the number of children dying of malnutrition, a preventable disease, has been on the increase in the state since 2016.
He said that 12 children died of malnutrition in the state in 2016, the number increased to 169 in 2017, further rose to 221 in 2018 while 352 deaths were recorded in 2019.
He added that so far 94 children had died of malnutrition between January and June, stressing that the deaths could be averted with increased funding of the nutrition sector.
“Poor budgetary allocation, releases and cash backing of allocated nutrition funds have continued to impact negatively on efforts to improve the nutrition index in the state.
“The National Nutrition and Health Survey 2018 shows that 42.9 per cent of children under 5-years in the state are stunted while 6.5 per cent are wasted (too thin for their height).
“The survey also shows that 22.2 per cent of the children are underweight.
“This is very disturbing because nutrition-related factors contribute to 50 per cent deaths among children under 5-years.
“If investment in the sector is not improve, the state could be breading malnourished and incapacitated future leaders with impaired brain and less productive to live a meaningful life,” he said.
Ishola noted that under-nutrition pushes children into a vicious circle of ill health, poverty and preventable sufferings and death that could go on from generation to generation.
According to him, good nutrition is not an outcome of development, but also a driver of economic growth and human development.
“Kaduna State Government should, therefore lead the facilitation of creation of nutrition budget lines in all relevant Ministries, Department and Agencies (MDAs).
“This is because nutrition is a multisectoral issue that requires multisectoral approach. That is why we have relevant MDAs at the meeting to see how we can strengthen implementation of nutrition sensitive interventions.”
Ishola urged the state to increase funding of health and nutrition with reference to the 1.0 per cent Consolidated Revenue Fund for Nutrition in the state.
He also called on the state executive council to approve and fully fund the state specific Multisectoral Plan of Action for Nutrition 2020-2024.
“The state government should ensure timely release and cash backing of allocated funds for nutrition line ministries in the 2020 budget and ensure increased accountability.
“The state should equally improve nutrition coordination activities across the institutional structures as outlined in the National Policy on Food and Nutrition,” Ishola said.
He expressed satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting, disclosing that five directors in the meeting have made a written commitment to improve funding and implementation of nutrition interventions.