‘Over 2.5 million children are malnourished in Northern Nigeria’ – UNICEF

 By Usman Nafada, Gombe

 

No fewer than 2.5 million children are currently Suffering Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in Northern Nigeria, the United Nations Fund (UNICEF), has said.

 

Accordingly, the UNICEF has introduced a short message service (SMS) cell phone reporting system in the management of SAM to fast track the life saving services provided at the implementation sites to ensure these children survive, thrive and grow up in good health.

 

The essence is to remove the bottlenecks involved in the system said UNICEF nutrition specialist, Robert Justin and a resource person at the one-day workshop who spoke in Gombe yesterday.

 

“By reporting with cell phones, we intend to have data moving very quickly to the Federal level and back down to the state and local government areas.

 

“And so we hope to remove the implementation bottlenecks to make this life-saving intervention more function much more effectively for the Nigerian children” he stated.

 

“At the end, we would have taken the data from the donkey carts to an aeroplane to make sure that it is going fast to where we need to review it and provide analysis and turn around so we can improve the quality of services,” he explained.

 

He said the cell phone reporting technology tagged Mobile Based Health Management Information System cost is toll-free on the MTN and Airtel mobile networks which are collaborating in driving the programme.

 

He said the scheme was piloted two years ago in Abuja and UNICEF is now ready to scale up, starting with Gombe as the first state in Nigeria.

 

He further said the aim was to reach out to the malnourished children across Africa, considering that if the programme succeeded in Nigeria, it could succeed anywhere in the world.

 

50 participants were drawn from the three implementing local governments of Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM), the state Ministry of Health and the media.

 

CMAM is currently implemented Dukku, Gombe and Nafada local government areas of Gombe state, with five centres in each local government.

 

Justin said UNICEF is committed to reducing the global prevalence of SAM to the barest minimum, especially the seasonal factor as the trend normally increase during periods of food scarcity.

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