The United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, is set to screen at least three million children for acute malnutrition in the northeast.
Folashade Adebayo, UNICEF’s Communication Officer in Nigeria, said in a statement issued in Maiduguri on Monday that the screening would be done with a grant from the government of Japan.
She said the grant would assist UNICEF to work with mothers and other caregivers to boost community-based food production.
It would also help in the detection, referral and monitoring of children with severe acute malnutrition in Borno and Yobe states.
“Children with severe acute malnutrition are at a significantly higher risk of death as compared to well-nourished children.
“A recent survey found that malnutrition rates in children between six months and 59 months are as high as 10 per cent in Borno and up to 12.3 per cent in Yobe.
“This is well above the 5 per cent threshold globally recognised to be of public health significance.
“With COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant loss of livelihoods and food insecurity, thousands of more children could be at risk of malnutrition-related deaths or stunting in the region this year,’’ she stated.
“The new grant will aid in the early detection and prompt treatment of children suffering from acute malnutrition.
“It will build a strong network of community nutrition responders who can ensure quick referrals of malnourished children to health facilities where trained health workers will be able to help them,’’ she added.
Adebayo also stated that about 50,000 pregnant and lactating women and other caregivers would be trained to store and cook affordable food for themselves and for their children.
They would also be trained on how to monitor their children’s nutritional status at home, she added.
She quoted the Charge d’ Affaires of the Japanese embassy in Nigeria, Mr Shinozawa Takayuki, as expressing the hope that the funding would ensure life-saving nutrition for children’s survival in the frontline states.