In its efforts to curb child malnutrition in Nigeria, President Muhammadu Buhari has proposed about N300 million in the 2019 budget for the procurement of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF). According to the budget breakdown, the RUTF will be distributed across the country, while part of the money will also be used to establish Community Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) sites.
RUTF is enriched food that requires no preparation and is specifically designed to treat severe acute malnutrition (SAM), mostly in CMAM sites
According to the 2018 Nigeria Nutrition Health Survey (NNHS), about 2.6 million children under the age of five are threatened by malnutrition, with the insurgency-ravaged North-east region accounting for over 900,000 of the affected children. The report also revealed that over 10 million Nigerian children are stunted.
Despite the increasing challenges of malnutrition in the country, the N300million proposed for RUTF in the 2019 appropriation bill is 33 percent lower than was approved in the 2018 budget. In the 2018 budget, about N400million (N400,186,200) was approved for the procurement of RUTF and establishment of CMAM sites in the country.
The government also proposed N18, 000,000 for Maternal, infant and Young Child Feeding Interventions in Nigeria, including Micronutrient Deficiency Control and Nutrition information Surveillance in the 2019 proposed budget. Though it was indicated as a new project for 2019, it was stated in the 2018 approved budget as an ongoing project with N20million budgeted for it.
A nutrition specialist, Bamidele Omotola, said that malnutrition funds were not released early despite the increasing challenges. Speaking at a media dialogue in Yola last year, Mr. Omotola said child malnutrition is silently killing hundreds of under-age children in the country.