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UNICEF hands over RUTF to Jigawa Government to Combat Malnutrition among Children

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By AKOR SYLVESTER-Abuja

 

In a move to combat malnutrition, the United Nation’s Children Fund (UNICEF) has handed over 12,400 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) to Jigawa State Government, which is expected to treat 14,000 children with wasting, a condition where a child is too thin for his or her height.

 

The initiative, funded through the Child Nutrition Fund (CNF), reinforces the unwavering commitment of both partners to improving child health in the State.

 

The fund noted that, over the past three years, Jigawa State has shown remarkable leadership in nutrition, health, and WASH (Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene) through consistent fund releases, quality service delivery, and creating a strong enabling environment.

 

The Child Nutrition Fund (CNF) supported by key donors such as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF), the Children’s Investment Fund Foundation (CIFF), Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) amongst others and managed by UNICEF, is a unique funding instrument.

 

By matching government financing of essential nutrition commodities in a 1:1 ratio, the fund said it allows governments to double their investment, accelerating the scale-up of policies and programs for the prevention, early detection, and treatment of malnutrition. Jigawa State was one of the early adopters of the Child Nutrition Fund, releasing 250 million Naira in 2023. UNICEF matched this amount, enabling the procurement of 12,400 cartons of RUTF. This initiative will treat children with severe wasting, marking the largest contribution by any state in Nigeria under the CNF to date.

 

“UNICEF is our key partner, and we are happy to have seen our partnership becoming even stronger. My government is committed to work for improving the nutritional status of women and children of Jigawa State as it is a matter of their fundamental rights,” said Mallam Umar Namadi, the Governor of Jigawa State.

 

He said “Malnutrition in Nigeria is on the rise, driven by conflict, forced displacement, and increasing food insecurity due to limited accessibility and affordability. Nigeria currently has the highest number of malnourished children in Africa and the second highest globally, with over 9 million children wasted.

 

“Jigawa State faces a high burden of malnutrition, with 64% of children stunted, 9.6% wasted, and 81.9% suffering from anemia. Over 80% of children experience food poverty, lacking a diverse diet to support growth and development.

 

“Despite these challenges, Jigawa State has been proactive in dealing with the situation. Last year, the state procured 4,672 cartons of RUTF, (there are 150 sachets per carton of RUTF) treating over 5,000 children. Jigawa’s innovative Masaki Nutrition Programme, with 300 community sites fully funded by the government, focuses on malnutrition prevention. Trained community health workers are deployed across the state, making Jigawa the first state in Nigeria to implement such a community nutrition program”.

 

UNICEF Representative in Nigeria, Ms. Cristian Munduate, expressed her admiration for Jigawa State’s efforts: “The commitment of Jigawa State under the leadership of the Governor in addressing malnutrition has been exemplary. The Child Nutrition Fund has allowed us to double our impact, ensuring that more children receive the life-saving treatment they need. I sincerely hope other state governments will be encouraged by the commitment shown by Jigawa State and invest in the child nutrition fund to address malnutrition in their respective states.”

 

Munduate also announced that, “UNICEF will provide Multiple Maternal Supplements (MMS) free of cost for pregnant women in Jigawa State to improve pregnancy outcomes. Our commitment to enhancing nutrition and health outcomes for the people of Jigawa, especially women and children, remains steadfast.”

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