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RUTF Stock-out: Two children Die as nursing mothers cry Out to Bauchi Gov for quick intervention

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Segun Adewale

Following the death of two innocent children who suffered from Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in Kirfi LGA CMAM Center of Bauchi State due to stock-out of the Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) in the area in the last one month, an urgent call has been made to the State Governor, Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir to quickly intervene in order to save the lives of other children.

Our correspondent revealed that all the 27 Community Baseduu Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) sites across the state have not received RUTF for over four weeks now because the development partners, UNICEF that were supplying the life saving food for the treatment of the children are in the process of winding down their interventions.

Nursing mothers who have children suffering from SAM therefore cried out to the Governor, to as a matter of urgency come to the aid of their dying children describing the situation as a very serious dilemma of life.

Some of the Nursing mothers who spoke to a team of journalists (including THISDAY Correspondent) from Bauchi SAM Network are clients of the Kirfi CMAM Center on behalf of others in Bauchi State saying that they are sending the ‘Save Our Soul’ (SOS) message to Governor Bala Mohammed over the threat to the lives of their under five children that are currently affected by Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) pandemic.

The women who could not hide their feelings while speaking to selected Newsmen and members of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) who visited Kirfi LGA Health facility on an on-the-spot assessment of the stock out situation lamented that just as their children were getting better they were told the RTUF was no longer available.

A few of the women who spoke in an emotion laden voices and on the verge of breaking down in crying, said that already the situation is taking its toll on the affected children with most of them looking emaciated and stunted a development that may lead to death unless something urgently happened.

They chorused that, “Please we want you people to tell the Governor who is our own to please get us the RUTF for the survival of our children. This is all we are asking from him, because we know that he is not aware of the out-of-stock of the commodity. This is a ‘save our soul’ appeal to our Governor, please let him hear our pathetic voices”.

One of the mothers, Zubaida Mohammed who is nursing 9 months old Adams Isa, an orphan who lost his mother at birth said that “for the past three weeks now we have been battling to save him, we lack food replacement for the malnourished baby since there is no more RUTF.

She lamented that breastfeeding a malnourished child was not an easy thing to do, because she has to breastfeed two babies at the same time and one is malnourished adding that, since the ready made food for the malnourished childre in the sites was stock out she has been battling to see how the child will survive.

“We could not afford even the local food supplements such as groundnut and beans which are expensive for us.We are trying to manage the situation on our own way ,we are calling on government to do something on the RUTF is helping the children to get cured,” she said.

Also speaking, Zainab Adam a mother of 16 old months Hamza Abubakar who is also affected with the Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) urged the state Government to immediately look into the plight of the dying children who are suffering from Malnutrition in the community.

She said that since the stock-out of the ready made food, RUTF the child has been battling to survive, declaring that the family is always having sleepless nights.

Another mother, Maryam Musa who is nursing twelve months old Safiya Musa lamented that the stock-out of the RUTF in the community was negatively affecting the treatment of their malnourished child saying, “When we were taking the foods regularly the child improved from the illness but now that it is no longer available the baby is suffering severely, government should please do something urgently,” she said.

While answering questions from the team, the Nutrition Focal Person in Kirfi LGA, Babani Mohammed said that for the past four weeks now there has been stock-out of RUTF in all the 6 outpatient Therapeutic sites in the Local.

He said that normally the caregivers or the nursing mothers come to the sites every Friday to collect the ready to use therapeutic foods for their malnourished children saying that, ” for now the sites are stock-out of the RUTF for the past four weeks that is why we encouraged the parents to go for food supplements such as palm oil, soya beans, groundnut, etc to make up”.

Babani Mohammed said that CMAM services in the area commenced in 2014 and has been helping members of the community especially those who have issues of malnutrition particularly children under the age of five years observing that the conditions have greatly improved since then as the community are aware of the importance of the service.

He added that children with SAM are brought to the center for monitoring and treatment for between 8-16 months but expressed dismay that the center has not received supply now for four weeks just as he also regrets that some clients are not coming because of the economic situation..

Babani Mohammed disclosed that the center has over 800 patients receiving treatment out of which about 400 have been treated successfully and discharged while a few have defaulted stressing that on a daily basis there are about 3-8 new cases while there is a shortage of trained CMAM manpower.

He also regretted that the center has run out of stock of the materials needed to teach the clients how to prepare local supplements now that the RUTF is not available adding also that other equipment required for treatment are not available for now.

The mothers therefore want the Bauchi State Government to as a matter of urgency come to their aid, stressing the importance of RUTF to the survival of their children just as they also urged the media and CSOs to keep advocating for increased in funding of nutritional issues as well as timely release of all budgeted funds, while it should also take ownership of the supply of RUTF.

The RUTF is a ready made nutritional food with high protein that is used for the treatment and prevention of Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in under five children who are mostly vulnerable to the disease.

It could be recalled that the North-Eastern region of the country has the highest burden of cases of SAM that is currently put at 8.7 percent according to a 2018 SMART Survey report.

The visit to the CMAM sites was part of a Media/CSOs advocacy training organised by an NGO, International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) in collaboration with Civil Society Legislative Advocacy Center (CISLAC), Network for Health Equity and Development (NHED) and the Aisha Buhari Foundation (ABF).

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