Governor Abdulrahman Abdulrazaq of Kwara says all children under five years in the state will henceforth have access to nutrition-related treatment in Primary Health Centres in the state.
Abdulrazaq, who was represented by Prof. Mamman Jubril, the Secretary to the State Government, stated this on Wednesday in Ilorin at the flag-off of the Accelerating Nutrition Results in Nigeria (ANRiN) project.
He lamented that 238,171 out of 696, 405 under-five children in Kwara are stunted, adding that this was evidence of chronic malnutrition and a potent socio-economic threat to the state.
According to the governor, malnutrition in children and pregnant women is a major factor in maternal and child death.
“Stunted children are unable to contribute to the growth of society.
“The persistent increase in the rate of malnutrition in the country led the Federal Government of Nigeria to partner with the World Bank to come up with an intervention targeted at tackling malnutrition,” he said.
He described the ANRiN project as a bold step to address malnutrition by increasing the utilisation of high quality and cost-effective nutrition interventions among pregnant and lactating women, adolescent girls and children under five years.
The governor recalled that due to the poor condition of the health sector in the state, the government paid N232million as counterpart funding for Basic Health Care Provision Fund, Malaria-Free Kwara project and ANRiN among other interventions programs.
He explained that the nutrition would include provision of micronutrients powder, zinc, Oral Rehydration Solution (ORS), iron and folic acids tablets for pregnant women and lactating women.
Others, he said, were high calories food for malnourished children, Vitamin A, malaria preventing drugs for pregnant women and deworming of children among other benefits.
Speaking earlier, the governor’s wife, Olufolake, disclosed that the state government disbursed N50million for the National Nutrition Project as counterpart fund which had been long overdue.
She said that the project would cut across the 16 local government areas of the state and would lead to an improvement in the coverage and utilisation of quality and cost-effective nutritional services in the state.
Dr Rhoda Ajiboye, Permanent Secretary, Kwara Ministry of Health, said the project would prevent the further incidence of growth stunting through effective nutritional interventions among children below five years of age, pregnant women and adolescent girls among others.
Dr Zakari Adams, Chief of United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF) Field Office, Kaduna, said his organisation would continue to assist the state government in ensuring the menace of malnutrition was tackled.
He warned that one out of every five children in the country would die if nothing was done about malnutrition.
Adam commended the Federal Government for striving to tackle the challenge of malnutrition in the country, adding that government alone could not, however, bear the burden.
He advised other stakeholders to put in more efforts to save lives and improve the well-being of children across the country.