BY ADEYEMI AKANJI, BAUCHI – Lack of political will by administrator of Local Government Councils in Bauchi State to tackle hunger is one of the major challenges hindering progress in the fight against Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM).
Investigation by our correspondent indicated that it usually takes a long time before the LGAs make arrangements to convey their share of the Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic-Food (RUTF) to the various CMAM centers where children suffering malnutrition usually go to for attention.
This is even as further checks revealed that in spite of the fact that the Bauchi State government in conjunction with the UNICEF has so far spent N20m in procuring 2,500 cartons of RUTF that are yet to be collected from the store of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency (BASPHCDA), by the affected Local Government Areas have refused to pick up the commodity for distribution to the CMAM centers.
A visit to one of the CMAM centers situated at the Kirfi PHC revealed that the facility has been out of stock of RUTF for about four weeks, a development that actually brought a setback to the recovery rate of the patients thereby increasing the severity of acute malnutrition in the area.
This is as it was gathered that the facility is also being accessed by clients from neighboring Alkaleri, Bauchi and Tafawa Balewa Local Government Areas and receiving between 100 and 120 clients every clinic day with all of them going back empty handed in the last four weeks.
Ado Muhammad Manga, who is the Nutrition Officer in charge of the PHC, lamented the out of stock situation of RUTF in the facility describing the development as most unfortunate, saying that they had no option than to send the clients back without the commodity.
Manga noted that the out of stock situation of the RUTF is causing relapse in the clients thereby slowing down the recovery process, adding that as of the time of the visit to the facility, the Local Government nutrition officer had not been able to go to Bauchi to convey the RUTF meant for the area.
Some of the mothers of the victims told our correspondent that the out of stock situation of RUTF is negatively affecting their children thus appealed for quick intervention by the government.
Asked what they are doing to supplement the treatment process in the absence of RUTF, most of them complained of lack of money with which to buy the local ingredients needed to mix local food supplements in the place of RUTF and urged the government to come to their aid.
Reacting to the development, Executive Chairman of Bauchi State Primary Health Care Development Agency (BASPHCDA), Dr Rilwanu Mohammed said the attitude of the local government is of great concern to the eradication of malnutrition in the state, stressing that they must find a way out of the situation to convey the commodities from Bauchi to the CMAM centers.
Mohammed said that the RUTF was supplied by UNICEF following the payment of N20million as counterpart funds by the Bauchi State Government earlier in the year. He expressed optimism that before the present supply runs out of stock more funds will be released.
The Director in-charge of Local Government Affairs in the Ministry for Local Government and Chieftaincy Affairs, was not on seat to comment on the development.