Although he is four years old, Ayuba Usman looks more like a one-year-old child. He has never crawled or walked like his age mates due to malnutrition that has affected his growth since birth.
Ayuba is one of the six children of Amina Saidu, 30, whose husband died in a Boko Haram attack in their community in 2015.
“Boko Haram attacked our community and abducted us (my husband, children and myself) and other people in the community. But they later killed my husband and some of us escaped and found ourselves in Niger Republic where we were taken to a camp. It was at the camp I discovered I was already a month pregnant with Ayuba.”
Although it is expected of every pregnant woman to feed on balanced diet for her baby to develop well, Amina was not that fortunate as they were fed once a day at the camp leading her to deliver her baby malnourished.
Ayuba is one of the 2.5 million under five years children suffering Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in Nigeria presently.
But in less than two months, Ayuba while undergoing treatment in an IDPs camp in Baga, Borno State, has started crawling. Amina and her children became beneficiaries of an intervention programme provided by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) supported by the Department for International Development (DFID).
She said, the health officials located her and her children and brought them to Baga IDPs camp where the child is currently undergoing treatment with the Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) and other medications that will restore his health.
“My son was in a very terrible state before, but now there is a lot of improvement and I am very happy. The health officials told me that before he completes his dose of treatment he would bounce back,” she said.
UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Abigael Nkuyuri in her presentation at a media dialogue on Child Malnutrition with the #StopChildMalnutritionNigeria in Maiduguri, Borno State, said there is high level of acute malnutrition-Prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) among children aged below 5 years with 11% in Borno, 13% in Yobe and 6% in Adamawa.
She said protracted access constraints and insecurity have made the situation even worse in Rann (Kala Balge), South Yobe, Magumeri, Jere and Konduga LGAs.
“The poor nutrition situation is further aggravated by poor food security situation, sub-optimal water, hygiene and sanitation practices and high disease burden,” she said.
For Ayuba and 258,950 children estimated to suffer from SAM in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states to undergo effective treatment in 2020, UNICEF has said Nigeria is in dire need of N5 billion to procure 258,950 cartons of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) for treatment.
UNICEF Nutrition Specialist in Maiduguri, Aminu Usman said, “we need over N5 billion to procure the RUTF but at the moment we have money for 258,950 cartons. Funding has been secured for 229,636. So, there is a gap in funding to save children that will be suffering from SAM in 2020.”
He urged that resources be mobilised domestically to save the children, adding that “when we say domestically, we are talking about all levels of government; LGAs, states as well as the federal government.”