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Monday, September 14, 2015

Malnourished Nigerian Children and burnt N60m fish



As the United Nations Children’s Fund announced that over a million Nigerian children are suffering from acute malnutrition, Nigerian Army in the fight against insurgents burnt over N60million worth of dried fish and meat capable of ameliorating this malnutrition challenge, writes REMMY NWEKE.
 Applause for CMAM:
THE Federal Government of Nigeria and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)  where recently commended for endeavoring through the Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) to reach over a million Nigerian children with a highly successful and cost-effective treatment for acutely malnourished children, saving over 200,000 lives in the past six years.
According to reports sighted by NaijaAgroNet about 1.7 million Nigerian children under the age of five years were severely and acutely malnourished, thus accounting for a tenth of the global total. Even as approximately a thousand Nigerian children die of malnutrition-related causes every day; a total of 361,000 each year as acute malnutrition also leads to stunt in children’s growth, thereby causing life-long physical limitations and reduction in intellectual capacity.
The Chief of Communication at UNICEF, Doune Porter,revealed that the latest success came through Community-based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) which was piloted in Gombe and Kebbi States in 2009 and has now been introduced in 11 northern Nigerian states where malnutrition poses the greatest threat. 

Malnourishment acute in children under five:
She said, CMAM treats acutely malnourished children from six months to five years old on an out-patient basis, just as over 830,000 children, NaijaAgroNet learnt, have been cured in the programme with the cure rate rising steadily – currently standing at 85 per cent. Of the remaining children, about two per cent do not respond to treatment and are referred to hospitals; the current mortality rate, the report said, is just one per cent, while the other children have defaulted from the programme.
“We must scale-up CMAM in Nigeria. It is a proven high-impact intervention that is saving lives and helping Nigerian children reach their full potential through a good start in life,” noted UNICEF Nigeria Representative Jean Gough. “We need greater investment in Nigeria’s future by investment in good nutrition,” she added.

Nigeria government committed:
“The Government of Nigeria is committed to reaching more children with CMAM,” said Linus Awute, Permanent Secretary of the Nigerian Federal Ministry of Health, “We cannot accept that Nigerian children continue to die of malnutrition and that our potential future leaders should be diminished by its effects.”
CMAM, NaijaAgroNet learnt, is carried out during weekly appointments over approximately eight weeks at primary health care centres. It includes education of parents and caregivers on nutrition, the importance of continuing breast-feeding and the role of hand-washing and hygiene. The nutrition status of the children is assessed during the CMAM sessions and children are given a health screening; if necessary, they are also treated for other illnesses. Children are given highly nutritious Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) during the sessions and mothers and caregivers are provided with supplies of RUTF to feed the child at home.
The cost for CMAM is just US$160, about N34,400 for each child treated, including US$76 about N16,340 for the RUTF; the remaining US$84 N18,060covers all other costs, including staff time and training, transport and storage of supplies, and basic medicines. UNICEF and the Government of Nigeria are scaling up the CMAM response and UNICEF is advocating increased investment in CMAM from both the Government of Nigeria and external donors. 

1,000 children died today is media listening:
Nutrition and media experts have called for media partnership so as to curb the rising rate of child malnutrition, even as estimated over 1,000 children die daily, reports NaijaAgroNet.
This was the tune of discussions from the dialogue organized by UNICEF and facilitated by Communication Specialist, Geoffrey Njoku, with participants drawn from both traditional and online media.
Likewise, the UNICEF Chief of Communication, Doune Porter, stressed the need for media partnership so as to attract the necessary intervention to stop child malnutrition in the country.

Nigeria needs well-nourished children for growth:
Doune Porter, said healthy and well-nourished children are needed for the future of Nigeria, calling on the media to sustain the partnership.
In his presentation on “An overview of malnutrition in Nigeria and its impact on children, UNICEF’s Chief Nutritionist, Mr. Arjan De Gwat, spoke extensively on the nutrition values of foods that he classified as macronutrients and micronutrients.
 As said by him, 55 percent of child deaths are attributed to malnutrition, adding that malnutrition of the mother could result in disability of the child or miscarriage.
Mr. Arjan, said malnutrition could also lead to reduction in mental capacity and ultimately poor education of the child, advising mothers to embrace exclusive breastfeeding for at least six months, asserting, “Exclusive breastfeeding has the potential to save more children’s lives than any other preventive intervention,” he said.

Nigerian military seizes, burns over 2,000 cartons of dried fish:
Many Nigerians were delighted  at the first week of September when the military announced the seizure of over 2,000 cartons of smoked fishes also known in local parlance as ‘dry fishes’ in addition to several bags of dried meat worth about N50 million, allegedly from Boko Haram on transit.
According to the Deputy Director, Army Public Relations, Colonel TukurGusau said these smoked fish and dried meat, were impounded from Boko Haram terrorists from different communities in Borno State of North-East Nigeria.
“The cartons of the dried fish are believed to be seized from innocent fishermen and business men by the terrorists who later sell them at ridiculous mount to finance their terrorists’ activities,” Col. Gusau, who also is the spokesman of 7 Division Nigerian Army, Maiduguri, told newsmen at the burning ground of cartons offish.
“By burning of this fishes, we’re sending strong message to the insurgents to change their terror act because an end is at sight. We’re determined with the support of patriotic Nigerians to end Boko Haram and other terror acts in the country,” he said.

Malnourished IDP children and burnt fishes:
However, as many Nigerians that commended the Army for the seizure, sooner than later turned against their burning of the dried fish and meat in the face of hunger in the region, especially children who are highly malnourished due to the activities of Boko Haram.
For many Nigerians, what stops the government from handing over the seizures to the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) now located over the northern part of the country, especially for the nutrients contained thereof.
But some school of thought were quick to add that the reason behind the burning of dried fishes and meat could be for the fear of that being a ploy from Boko Haram, and could contain poison to get those Nigerians they could not kill by bomb and Extremely Insensitive Detonating Substance (EIDs).

A role for NAFDAC et al:
While some also canvassed that even if the scare of poison was the army reason, Nigeria has several scientific agencies including the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and some 14 agricultural based research institutes, such as the Nigerian Institute for Oceanography and Marine Research (NIOMR), charged with fisheries research; Federal Department of Fisheries (FDF), mandated with fisheries development. This is in addition to two fisheries research institutes namely the Lake Chad Research Institute, Maiduguri, Borno State and Kainji Lake Research Institute in New Bussa, Niger State.

Fishery nightmares:
A concerned Nigeria, Mrs. Lara Owoye-Wise, lamented that taking a closer look at the consignment before they were set ablaze, one could easily recall that the insurgents raided fishing communities, killed some of the fishermen and carted away their neatly packed cartons of fish meant for sale. They were on their way back to their camp before the Army intercepted them.
For her, the actions of the Army by burning the fishes and meat were disturbing decisions which gives nightmares, lamenting that “It’s not right oh. Okay, the Nigerian military intercepts trailer loads of dried fish and other sources of protein from fleeing terrorists in Borno State and what does our military do with the seized items? They make a burn fire and destroy the rich sources of protein estimated at millions of naira!”
Quickly, she recollects that at a shouting distance, were children dying of malnutrition, mothers’ breastmilk gone dry and the little quantity those breasts produce, is lucid and bereft of nutrients.
“And you guys destroy tonnes upon tonnes of dried fish, just like that! This doesn’t sit well at all,”she said.
Wondering how wasteful Nigeria has become, Lara lamented that those fishes could have added some flesh on those skinny frames.

Watch out … it could be a bait:
Baba Aye noted that the burnt cartons of fish were from insurgents which does not vitiate the protein content in them and that would have ameliorated the malnourishment consuming millions of poor people in the region.
For the duo of Messrs Michael Joshua Ojo and Mathew Akinyoola who felt the same way too, but later realized that those animals could have been used as bait for their targets. Mr. Akinyoola, declaring “Oh No..those fishes may have been poisoned.”
Another member of their school of thought, Amaobi Nwachukwu said that those fishes may be poisoned baits, as such, falling for the bait would have enabled the insurgents to accomplish more than they would have done effortlessly.
Adeniyi Adetola said that if they are not destroyed now, it does not take an evil genius to have a large consignment of same poisoned and then make the military intercept the poisoned consignment to be distributed; what do we say then? And if I may ask, if given to you would you eat?
Adding his voice to the argument, Mr. Flourish Atoju thinks the ideal thing to do was burn them off, as it was uncertain the safety of those products.
Yet, another perspective came on board from Mr. Abdul Jimoh, who sought to know if there is any law in Nigeria empowering security agencies to burn seized goods. Asking, “If anyone has a law that empowers security agents to burn items impounded, I should be grateful if the person could educate me with citations of the extant enabling laws! It’s a totally different thing to incinerate...

Bringing child malnutrition on front burner:
Like the Coordinator, African Centre for Media and Information Literacy, Mr. Chido Onuma, said in his presentation on media advocacy required to keep the issue of child malnutrition on the front burner. Emphasising on how the media can support advocacy for increased resources for nutrition programming.
He therefore, charged the media to sensitize governments at all levels to increase resources to enhance child nutrition, and do more of features, special reports and editorials to sustain focus on child malnutrition in the country.
Proper examination of those burnt fishes and meats could have solve a huge problem for Nigeria only if our agencies, especially those concerned with food and drug administration were engaged adequately to ensure that every of these fishes are well screened before giving same out to avoid the scare of poison in any case.
The war against malnutrition is surmountable through proper planning and use of available resources.
 

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