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UNICEF begs Nigerian States to access Child Nutrition Fund to save 9m children

The group called on states yet to pay or sign an MOU to hasten the payment in the interest of the Nigerian child.

UNICEF begs Nigerian States to access Child Nutrition Fund, save 9m children [UNICEF]

“Without urgent action in 2024, UNICEF estimates that approximately nine million children under five years will suffer from moderate and acute malnutrition,” Prosper Dakurah, Nutrition Manager at UNICEF, said in Lagos.

Dakurah spoke at a meeting of UNICEF, the Diamond Award for Media Excellence (DAME) and some media professionals. The meeting was in connection with a partnership between UNICEF, DAME and the Nigerian Guild of Editors on the protection of the rights of the Nigerian child.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the CNF is a new financing mechanism designed to accelerate the scale-up of sustainable policies, programmes and supplies to end child wasting. It is designed to support government-led efforts in some of the countries that have the highest proportion of children under five years of age with wasting.

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Dakurah said that states such as Katsina, Jigawa and Plateau had made their funding, adding that Adamawa, Ebonyi and Gombe had made commitments toward it. He called on states yet to pay or sign a memorandum of understanding in that regard to hasten the payment in the interest of the Nigerian child.

Dakurah said that UNICEF would match any state’s counterpart fund by the CNF.

“You pay one dollar, you get an additional dollar from CNF,” he said.

According to the manager, UNICEF is committed to reaching millions of children in Nigeria with its interventions. He said that every dollar spent on nutrition would generate 16 dollars in economic returns. Dakurah added that it would take ₦10,860 or 15 dollars to prevent a child from being malnourished but would cost ₦99, 636 or 140 dollars to treat a malnourished child.

According to the official, if left untreated, children with severe acute malnutrition are nearly 12 times more likely to die than a healthy child.

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Dorothy Ochola-Odongo, Health Manager at UNICEF, regretted that Nigeria started reporting cases of another variant of the Polio virus after it was certified polio-free in August 2020.

According to her, the variant, vaccine-derived poliovirus (cVDPV), is a rare phenomenon that occurs when the weakened poliovirus in oral poliovirus vaccines mutates and regains its ability to cause disease.

“It is important to note that cVDPV is not caused by the vaccine itself, but by the mutation of the virus in the environment.

“To prevent cVDPV, it is crucial to maintain high vaccination coverage and ensure that everyone, especially in areas with low vaccination rates, receives a full course of polio vaccines."

The health manager said that UNICEF was committed to supporting the Nigerian Government to eradicate the variant soon. In his remarks, the President of the NGE, Eze Anaba, expressed the hope that the partnership would go a long way to ensure more protection of the rights of Nigerian children.

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Lanre Idowu, Chief Executive Officer and Editor-in-Chief at Diamond Publications Ltd. and Trustee of DAME emphasised the need for journalists, UNICEF and governments to ensure best practices in their respective areas of influence.

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