Dr Florence Oni, UNICEF’s Nutrition Specialist in the state, made the disclosure on telephone to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Kaduna.
Oni said the step was to treat more than 750,000 severely malnourished children in the state in a bid to address the alarming rate of malnutrition among children under five years.
She said that six sites were established in Zaria, six in Makarfi and one in Ikara Local Government Areas.
“Others are one each in Kaduna State University Teaching Hospital; General Hospital Kachia; General Hospital Kafanchan and General Hospital Birnin Gwari’’.
Oni commended the government for the efforts made to address the problem of malnutrition.
She, however, said there was the need to do more, given the number of children suffering from malnutrition in the state.
Equally, Oni said that the prevailing increase in the prices of food items was hampering the ongoing fight against malnutrition in the country.
Jane Gwani, the Nutrition Officer of the state’s Ministry of Health and Human Resources, said that no fewer than 750, 000, representing 42 per cent of children less than five years in Kaduna State were suffering from severe malnutrition.
According to her, such children are ten times more likely to die if nothing is done.
She also said that more than 900, 000 children representing 57 per cent of children under five in the state were equally stunted (short for their age), meaning six out of every 10 children were stunted due to malnutrition.
She explained that the figure was based on the 2013 National Demographic Health Survey, adding that it could be more currently.
“The 2013 data is enough to give us sleepless nights. If we must use this data as our baseline, then the time to act is now.’’
She, nonetheless, said that several intervention had been roll out to reverse the situation in collaboration with relevant stakeholders across communities, public and private sectors, Civil Society Organisations, government ministries, department and agencies.
Gwani said that the government had so far released N37 million and UNICEF supported the state with additional N45 million to treat children suffering from severe acute malnutrition.
NAN also reports that the state government had equally earmarked N130 million in the 2017 budget for the procurement of therapeutic food and drugs for management of acute malnutrition.
“So far, about 2,525 malnourished children are admitted in the CMAM sites in Zaria alone out of which 800 have fully recovered, while 52 died between March and August 2016.
“This is in addition to many ongoing interventions, some of which include promotion of exclusive breast feeding and proper infant and young child feeding.
“Others are micronutrient deficiency control support and capacity building for resource mobilisation to scale up nutrition,’’ the nutrition officer added.