The Ebonyi government through its Ministry of Health says it is currently treating over 800 children from acute malnutrition in the state.
The Nutrition Officer in the ministry, Mr Cyprain Ogbonna said on Friday while interacting with newsmen on the development in Abakaliki.
Ogbonna revealed that the figure were children selected across various communities and those who before the intervention battled with the scourge.
He said that a trained team at Maternal and Child Health (MCH), Onueke Health Center in Ezza South Local Government Area of the state, reviewed a case of a 59-months-old- boy, Master Kelechi Ede facing malnutrition in the state.
“In a document issued, it was gathered that Ede was one among the children facing severe malnutrtion but had bounced back to life.
“This followed effort of the officers working at MCH in Onueke who treated him with a supplement known as Therapeutic foods.
“It was established that before March 23, 2020, the life threatening form of undernutrition had made the child so skinny, stunted and could only weight nine kilogramme.
“Before the dramatic change, the health officers were reviewing the patient on weekly basis and placed him on steady food clinically approved for treatment of such problem.
“Ede represents over 800 children whose lives had been saved while there are still numerous number in a similar condition in the state,” Ogbonna said.
Meanwhile, a report from National Nutrition Health Survey (NNHS) in 2018 made available to newsmen, stated that, if nothing is done, no fewer than 20,000 children between the ages of six and 59 months are liable to die annually of malnutrition in the state.
The Nutritionist, while reacting to the report, disclosed that the impending nutrition challenge prompted the action of the Federal Ministry of Health in collaboration with United Nations International Children’s Education Fund (UNICEF) to establish treatment across three zones of the state.
“It is based on this report that Federal government establishment a program known as Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) so that the danger could be averted,” he said.
According to him, the MCH centers in the three zones of Azuiyiokwu, Onueke and Amaechara in Afikpo respectively were currently treating over 800 malnourished children with therapeutic food.
Ogbonna noted that the trained health workers were in steady harvest of more children from the communities.
He described malnutrition as lack of adequate nourishment that made either adult and children to present skinny and stunted nature.
He attributed one of the causes of malnutrition to parents’ inability to breastfeed their children appropriately and inappropriate complementary feeding.
The nutrition expert said that unhygienic practices and less nutrient intake were major causes of malnutrition.
“Nutrition is a technical area that one needs to be careful but it is quite unfortunate that many do not breast feed their children not knowing that the first milk known as colostrum serves as antibiotics to newborn babies and even suckling eases off placenta after delivery.
He further called for assistance and partnership to enable the nutrition sector, achieve its desired result by boosting both preventive and curative measures.
The Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr Christian Achi, who confirmed the prevalence cases of malnourished children, attributed it to cumulated effect of marginalization of the state, before its creation in 1996.
He added that the harvested malnourished children were placed on the food supplements in the clinics designated for such cases.
“I disagree with the prediction of NNHS claiming that 20,000 children would die annually.
“We have identified the problem and government has also embarked on the measures to remedy the situation,” Achi said.
He advised that mothers should always adhere to the directive on exclusive breastfeeding so that the problem could be reduced.
According to him, a large number of mothers have been educated in the health facilities on adequate food preparation and combination that would give the desired nutrients needed for the good health of every child.
He further called on stakeholders to partner with the state government on the fight against malnutrition to trace and assist other affected children within their domain. (NAN)