A brainstorming session organized by Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Centre (CISLAC) has identified decreasing Government counterpart funding of health programmes as well as general ignorance by people as major factors contributing to the rise in malnutrition cases in Gombe State especially among children and nursing mothers.
The brainstorming workshop on Nutrition Budget Tracking for Civil Society Organizations (CSO’s) and Media discovered that Gombe State Government’s inability to back-up its budgeted funds for nutrition programmes with cash releases has been the reason why malnutrition cases have been on the increase in the state.
As at the month of October 2018, not a single dime had been released from the N150 million approved in the 2018 budget for Nutrition activities and a visit to one of the Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) sites in Gombe metropolis during the workshop showed that an average of 30 women come to the CMAM centre with their malnourished children once in a week in recent times.
There are also other programmes waiting for the release of counterpart funding by the State Government which had been long awaited such as the World Bank Accelerated Nutrition Result in Nigeria (ANRIN).
The State Government is expected to make a counterpart funding of N50 million each year for the five year programme that should have started in the State long ago.
Other major reasons responsible for the rising cases of malnutrition in Gombe state is the lack of exclusive breastfeeding by mothers and the high level of ignorance among many rural dwellers who sell most of their nutritious food items like beans, poultry products, groundnuts, vegetables, grains such as millet among many others after the harvest for other needs instead of availing such food items for family use especially for children.
Participants at the session which also include traditional rulers, senior civil servants from the State Ministry of Economic Planning and Ministry of Health also reiterated the need for vigorous enlightenment and advocacy for more attention and funding of the critical sector.
Earlier during his presentation, Mohammed Murtala, Programme Officer, Nutrition Advocacy of CISLAC, explained the urgent need for the release of funds for the procurement of RUTF in the State as one of the interventions needed urgently.
He also stressed the need for the scaling up of CNAM sites from the current four Local Government Areas of the State to all the eleven LGAs. Murtala also explained the need for frequent meetings of the State Nutrition Committee and the Technical working group meeting and the inclusion of the media as well as the creation of a Nutrition Agency in the State.