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Concern as Bauchi PHC receives over 400 malnourished babies weekly

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Rauf Oyewole, Bauchi

It’s not a ‘Happy Children’s Day’ for kids and mothers who are battling severe malnutrition and survival of their little innocent babies in Bauchi communities.

A cross section of mothers who spoke with our correspondent in Bauchi on Wednesday said that ongoing hardship has taken a balanced diet away from their dining table.

According to them, the situation has pushed them into giving their children available food far from micronutrient-dense food.

A visit to Yelwa Domiciliary Health Care Centre, Bauchi showed that about 400 malnourished babies are recorded on Wednesday and Thursday –nutrition day. This has put pressure on the available therapeutic food to treat malnutrition – Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).

Nigeria’s economic reform has pushed more families into poverty. According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index survey, 63 percent of persons living within Nigeria (133 million people) are multidimensionally poor. Meanwhile, 65 percent of the poor (86 million people) live in the North, while 35 percent (nearly 47 million) live in the South.

Some of the mothers who spoke with our correspondent attributed the malnutrition to economic hardship where they could not afford varieties of food.

Maimuna Ibrahim is a nursing mother with a six month old malnourished baby who refused to do exclusive breastfeeding. She explained that: “I actually did not do exclusive breastfeeding because I do not have breast milk. I started giving the baby pap and water. I took him to a traditional home where they told me that he has skin disease but when I came to hospital they told me it is malnutrition.

“In my first baby, I did not do exclusive breastfeeding but there was no case of malnutrition. I have heard about exclusive breastfeeding but I regret not doing it. Everyone in my area is blaming me for his condition.

“I’m also blaming myself because I don’t think my son deserves this condition. Exclusive breastfeeding doesn’t cost anything,” she said.

Hussaina Hassan, mother of a-two-year and three-month-old girl who also skipped exclusive breastfeeding said that the young girl does not eat food apart from water.

“If she eats, she will vomit and if we force her she will faint. She has been taking only water since I gave birth to her. She hasn’t even taken a pap over the last two years,” she said.

The Nutrition Officer at the PHC, Mukhtar Ahmad said that there has been a sudden upsurge in the cases of severely malnourished babies due to poor intake of food with adequate nutrients.

“When we started our nutrition clinic, we were expecting about 10 cases but we got about 200 cases in one clinic day –on Wednesday and the same thing on Thursday.”

Mukhtar attributed this to family poverty, selection of foods during pregnancy and economic hardship.

“When they come, we teach them a combination of homemade micronutrients-dense food. Some of the cases we had in the past have recovered and are doing well.”

Philomena Irene is a Nutrition Specialist with United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Bauchi Field Office, she said that, to meet the minimum dietary diversity for healthy growth and development, children need to consume foods from at least five out of the eight recommended food groups.

“The eight food groups are: breast milk; grains, roots, tubers and plantains; pulses (beans, peas, lentils), nuts and seeds; dairy products (milk, infant formula, yogurt, cheese); flesh foods (meat, fish, poultry, organ meats); eggs; vitamin-A-rich fruits and vegetables; and other fruits and vegetables.

“If children are fed with 0 to 2 food groups per day- they are experiencing chronic food poverty, 3 to 4 food groups/day they experience moderate food poverty. 5 or more food groups per day- they met the minimum dietary diversity,” she said.

Philomena urged the government to embrace the Child Nutrition Fund (CNF) which is a new financing mechanism designed to accelerate the scale-up of sustainable policies, programmes and supplies to end child wasting.

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Health

Cholera: Children facing substantial health risks – UNICEF

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The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) says recurrent cholera outbreaks in the Nigeria are critically affecting children and the population at large.

This is contained in a statement by Celine Lafoucrier, Chief of Lagos UNICEF Field Office, on Saturday in response to cholera outbreak in Lagos and other parts of the country.

Lafoucrier said that children faced substantial health risks, particularly those under five who were prone to severe dehydration and higher mortality rate.

She urged government to focus on the provision of clean and risk-free water to prevent the spread of cholera in the country.

According to her, despite the state government’s efforts to provide water to its population, the current outbreak demonstrates the need for an urgent government focus on ensuring the water provided to the population is clean and risk-free.

“Addressing the challenges of cholera outbreaks requires a deliberate focus of state policies.

”And this include provision of high-standard water and sanitation facilities as well as strengthened healthcare systems capable of responding to the demand in times of outbreaks.

”There should be campaigns on cholera prevention to protect children and the population at large”, she said.

Lafoucrier said that good water and sanitation infrastructure play a crucial role in reducing disease outbreaks, such as cholera, which causes an estimated 100,000 deaths annually.

“Water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) interventions are fundamental in preventing and responding to cholera epidemics.

“Safe water supplies, hygienic sanitation, and effective water management are key elements in this effort.

“Ultimately, preventing cholera centers on good sanitation and hygiene practices.

“Key actions include proper disposal of faeces, eliminating open defecation, and ensuring access to potable water.

“Regular hand washing with clean, running water and soap is vital.

“Additionally, avoiding the consumption of uncooked vegetables, unwashed fruits, raw or undercooked seafood, and food from street vendors is important to reduce the risk of cholera infection”, she said.

According to her, safer water can annually prevent 1.4 million child deaths from diarrhoea, 500,000 deaths from malaria, and 860,000 child deaths from malnutrition.

She said that it could also protect 10 million people from serious illnesses like lymphatic filariasis and trachoma.

Lafoucrier, however, said that disease outbreaks ultimately hinder Nigeria’s progress in achieving health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), particularly SDG 3, which focuses on ensuring healthy lives and well-being for all.

“These outbreaks strain Nigeria’s health system, diverting limited resources from essential services like routine immunizations and maternal and childcare, undermining universal health coverage.

“However, outbreaks also present opportunities to strengthen Nigeria’s health system.

“Prevention is more cost-effective than cure; thus, communities should establish systems that promote key hygiene practices, transforming them into a cultural norm,” she said.

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Osun Health Insurance to train health workers on sign language interpretation

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By Ismail Azeez, Osogbo

In a move to ensure inclusive healthcare, the Osun State Health Insurance Agency (OSHIA) on Thursday said the agency has concluded a plan to train nurses and other health workers in government hospitals on sign language interpretation in the state.

The agency disclosed that the aims is to bridge the communication gap between deaf or dumb pregnant women and healthcare providers

The Executive Secretary of the agency, Dr Rasaq Akindele stated this while featuring on NewsPoints, organised by the members of Osun NUJ Correspondents’ Chapel, Osogbo.

According to him, “We will train nurses  and other health workers that are in various government hospitals on how to interpret signs, so that at a particular time that any deaf or dumb pregnant woman comes to the hospital somebody would be there to interpret the signs to the doctors and the nurses on duty to get adequate health.”

Akindele expressed intentions to register all the pregnant women in the state into the scheme to have free healthcare services during the pregnancy.

Speaking on the achievements of the agency, since he took over the mantle of power, Dr Akindele said no fewer than 23,000 retirees have been enrolled into the Osun Health insurance Agency of the  State Government.

He said it was part of the State government’s  effort to ensure that retired civil servants received their  health benefits after their mandatory service years.

He said OSHIA, being an Agency saddled with the responsibility of ensuring, provision of health insurance scheme to the citizens of the state, hinted that there is continuous enrollment for those who are retiring from service on a daily basis.

He noted many people have benefited from the Agency since Governor Ademola Adeleke took over the leadership of the state.

Akindele stated that enrollment of pensioners have been digitised and as such had made it easier for them to  have access to health facilities for their health issues .

He lamented the rate of ignorance of people about Agency, saying the Agency had been carrying out Enlightenment programs for people to know how to go about their health issues,

He said, “One of the major challenges the Agency is having is about education. Many people still believed in an analog way of doing registration of the health insurance scheme. We have gone digital and many people are yet to follow the trend of things. This is why we have to partner with media organisations for various Enlightenment programmes of our Agency.

“The total enrollee in the formal sector is 244,000 and it is likely to increase when the governor starts employing the way he has promised. And in the informal sector, we have 13,462 enrollees; what we met on ground was little less than 4,000. And our aim is to capture nothing less than 6 percent of the people who are living in Osun State.

“We are coping with the little resources we have in OSHIA and at anytime we are running out fund and we have to get some succour from the governor

“We have code which anybody can go through our website to  get information and get all access to health insurance scheme programmes. We will continue to do our best to ensure that every citizen of this state benefits and cues into this program because health is wealth.”

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Lagos warns residents on Cholera outbreak, records five deaths

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The Lagos State Government has called for heightened vigilance and adoption of precautionary measures as the state records cholera outbreak resulting in five fatalities.

The state Commissioner for Health, Prof. Akin Abayomi, in a statement on Tuesday, warned that the state had recorded an excess report of severe gastroenteritis cases in the last 48 hours.

Speaking on the surveillance reports, Abayomi disclosed that cases of severe gastroenteritis have been reported in communities around Eti-Osa, Lagos Island, Ikorodu and Kosofe Local Government Area of the state.

He noted that the outbreak resulted in about 60 hospital admissions, and five deaths recorded mainly from patients presenting late with extreme dehydration.

“We have activated a statewide heightened surveillance and response.

“The Ministry of Health Directorate of Environmental Health and the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency have been alerted to investigate a possible water contamination source in the Lekki, Victoria Island axis.

“We suspect a possible cholera outbreak; however, samples have been taken for confirmation,” he said.

The commissioner noted that following recent rainfall, Lagos had witnessed a notable increase in cases of severe vomiting and watery stools, adding that urban slums and crowded areas with poor sanitation are particularly at risk.

Abayomi explained that cholera is a highly contagious disease that causes severe diarrhoea and can be life-threatening.

He added that it posed a significant health burden in areas with poor water treatment and sanitation, and could impact the state.

“Cholera spreads through direct transmission by eating or drinking contaminated food or water, and indirect transmission due to poor sanitation and lack of handwashing.

“Symptoms of cholera include; severe watery diarrhea, vomiting, rapid dehydration, muscle cramps, fever and sometimes collapse,” he said.

According to him, treatment options for cholera include dehydration, and using Oral dehydration Salts for mild to moderate dehydration.

He noted that intravenous fluids are used for severely dehydrated patients, given only in medical facilities and supervised by medical personnel.

“To prevent cholera, citizens are urged to ensure safe drinking water by boiling, chlorinating, or using bottled water, and avoiding ice products made from untreated water.

“Maintaining proper sanitation by using toilets, safely disposing of faeces, and avoiding open defecation is crucial.

“Practicing good hygiene, such as washing hands with soap and clean water regularly, especially before eating, preparing food, and after using the toilet, is essential and following food safety guidelines,” Abayomi advised.

He also advised residents to rely on the state Ministry of Health, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control and accredited local health facilities for guidance, advice, and updates on prevention, treatment, and management.

The commissioner disclosed that suspected cases should be promptly reported via the following emergency hotlines: 08023169485, 08137412348, or by using helplines 767 or 112 to safeguard communities.

Abayomi promised to keep the public informed and restated the state’s commitment to ensuring the health and well-being of its citizens.

The NCDC showed that as of April 28, Nigeria had reported 815 suspected cholera cases and 14 deaths across 25 states.

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