Over thirty four thousand children in Taraba State may die of Severe Acute Malnutrition if serious action is not taken immediately, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) disclosed on Thursday.

Mr Bhanu Pathak, UNICEF Nigeria Chief of Field Office, Bauchi, raised the alarm during a courtesy call on Taraba State Governor Darius Ishaku.

Pathak said that over seventy five thousand children under five-years-old are yet to be fully immunised from polio and other childhood diseases, urging the state government to step up actions to address the issues.

While commending the Governor for his commitment to the provision of health and quality education for children in the state and for attending to the plight of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), Pathak said that there is so much to be done and more commitment from the state government is needed.

According to Pathak, “Taraba state has an estimated 34,419 severe acute malnutrition cases. With no health facility providing treatment, these children will be at risk of dying if the government does not intervene appropriately and timely. Many children who might survive malnutrition in early life are condemned to permanent physical and intellectual disabilities in later life; thus productivity of the future leaders of the state will be adversely affected.

“The UNICEF is also worried that over 75,000 children in the state are not yet fully immunised, while over five hundred thousand children of school age are out of school. This is further complicated because of the insurgency in the region which has turned Taraba to a home for most of the people fleeing. The internal wrangling have also added to the problem. We therefore urge the state government to step up actions to address this challenges.”

In his remark, Governor Ishaku said that the state was “immensely grateful to UNICEF for the various interventions in key areas of education, health, nutrition, child protection and WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene).

Gov Ishaku disclosed that the state government had made tremendous efforts and have recorded great success in the provision of health services, education and the general well being of mothers and children, but was overwhelmed by the challenges posed by the IDPs.

“We have done remarkably well and have recorded great improvement in the provision of quality education and health care services to the people. But we have challenges and we need your assistance to deal with the plight of IDPs and the refugees we have coming in from Cameroon. I have directed that they should be properly taken care of but we need more assistance to address some of these issues,” the Governor said.

“We had hoped to have all our children in school by now but the crisis has affected our plans. We would not relent as we have great plans for our children. Let me once again thank the UNICEF and other partnering agencies for their interests in Taraba. I assure you that my government will welcome any intervention for the good of our people and we will always pay our counterpart funds promptly.”

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