The United Nation Children Fund on Tuesday said 1,115 children have died from acute malnutrition in Borno State between January and December 2019.
UNICEF Nutrition Sector Coordinator, Simon Karanja, disclosed this at the inauguration of the Borno State Steering Committee on Food and Nutrition in Maiduguri.
Karanja said in the year under review, 138,236 children were treated in various Communities for Management of Acute Malnutrition centres in the state, while 6,399 defaulted treatment.
He also said 1,877 children did not recover or relapsed.
He said at least three cases of death were recorded everyday in the state.
The official attributed the rising cases of malnutrition to include poor dietary consumption trends, high prevalence of diseases such as diarrhea, measles and food insecurity.
Other factors, he said, included poor funding of prevention interventions, duplication and gaps in services, critical medicine shortages for such persons.
He said: “In 2020, the programme targeted 533,000 children in need of treatment.
“Also, an estimated 138,000 are expected to receive treatment for Severe Acute Malnutrition while 182 will receive treatment for Moderate Acute Malnutrition.”
Also speaking, the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Manager for UNICEF, Kabuka Banda, attributed rising cases of malnutrition especially in the IDPs camps to lack of “adequate utilisation of the environment”.
Banda said children only got the best type of food when they were living in a healthy and conducive environment and not in a hazardous settlement.
He said: “The practice of open defecation poses a big threat and has remained a big contributor of malnutrition, especially in IDPs campsm which can alter the children’s growth and affect their performance.
“It is therefore important to work with the WASH sector to highlight some of this concern to enable the children get the best types of foods in their environment.”
Also speaking, UNICEF Nutritional Manager, Sanjey Kumar-Das, described some of the common symptoms of malnutrition to include fatigue, dizziness and weight loss.
Kumar-Das said untreated malnutrition could cause physical or mental disability to a child’s growth.
He said: “Studies show that around 16 per cent gross domestic loss due to under nutrition and Malnourished children are twelve times more likely to die compared to their normal peers.”
In his remarks, Geoffrey Ijumba, UNICEF’s Chief Field Officer, lauded the committee for working toward achieving the National Food Policy and Nutrition Policy Objectives and implement its programmes.
Ijumba explained that the mandate of the committee included providing necessary technical and professional assistance and support to the state on food and nutrition planing and programme implementation.
He said: “Food security and nutrition situation remains fragile across North East, particularly given the high level of aid dependency and the lack of access to land or other livelihood opportunities.
“The state committee will therefore advice on the formulation of appropriate strategies to cushion most of the shocks and effects of the crises on nutrition and food security across the state.”
Alhaji Adamu Lawan, Commissioner of Finance, Budget and Planning, said the state government had released N1 billion to the Bank Of Industry for programmes to mitigate malnutrition.”
Lawan, who is also the Chairman, Steering Committee on Food Nutrition, said the state government also earmarked N5 billion in the 2020 budget as fund backing for various programmes and interventions in the state.
He said that lack of accountability and proper coordination as well as political will have affected the implementation of various programmes in the state.
Lawan said the inauguration of the committee would go a long way in enhancing programs and policies of government to addressing health and other humanitarian challenges confronting the state.