In a bid to manage Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) in the country, the federal government in partnership with UNICEF,  yesterday, distributed 12 cartons of ‘Ready to Use Therapeutic Food’ (RUTF) to six selected states, with the hope to treat about 88,000 children with Severe Acute Malnutrition and save more than 16,000 lives.

The minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who made the distribution during the event for Dissemination of 2018 National Nutrition and Health Survey, held in Abuja, said the six states which include Anambra, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Edo, Osun States and  FCT  were selected based on set criteria and were requested to indicate interest.

“Today, I will be handing over 12,000 cartons of RUTF to each of the states. The FCT will get 5000 cartons. Health workers will also be trained in each of the states to manage Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM). It is my hope that based on the understanding we have with them, the selected states will sustain the service delivery after we have exhausted these stock.

“As funds are made available, we shall continue to scale up efforts to treat SAM cases while strengthening our prevention efforts in Nigeria” said Adewole.

This was even as the minister revealed that the country has achieved some improvement in Immunization coverage nationally, as contained in the 2018 National Nutrition and Health Survey which was disseminated yesterday.

According to the survey, 57.2 percent of children aged 12-23 months had received the third dose of DPT/Penta at the time of the survey, an improvement from 48.8 percent reported in 2015, but comparable to 2014 findings  where 52.2 percent of children had received DTP/Penta 3.

Adewole said though there is improvement in immunization nationally, there is need to increase awareness and campaign to improve immunization coverage in all the states and particularly in the North East and North West.

On contraceptives, the survey report also showed that 25.5 percent of women who were in union/married, used any contractive method; 17.3 per cent used modern contraceptive and 8.3 per cent used traditional contraceptive method.

Adewole expressed worry that 74 and 84 per cent of the women do not use any contraceptive method while therefore  calling for increased community engagement and demand for FP at the community level with increased  number of health providers qualified to provide FP counselling and clinical services among others.

On vitamin A supplement, the survey revealed that only 41 percent (comparable to 42 percent in 2015) of the children aged between 6 to 59 months received the supplement in the 6 months prior to the survey. Adding that about six in ten Nigerian children do not receive adequate levels of supplementation and are at risk of vitamin A deficiency.

The coverage, the minister said is however, a slight improvement from NNHS 2014 findings that recorded prevalence of 35 percent while also calling for increased awareness and campaign to improve Vitamin A coverage in states and particularly in the North East and North West.

On HIV, the survey revealed that overall, 57 percent of women were offered HIV testing during ANC, 55 percent accepted to be tested and 45 percent received results.

The minister said though there is a slight increase from the respective 52 percent, 50 percent and 40 percent reported in 2015, there is still need to intensify efforts in increasing utilization of Prevention of Mother to Child Transmission (PMTCT).

According to him, although, the overall result of the 2018 NNHS shows a marginal improvement in some of the major health indicators compared to previous NNHS and Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS).   States with results at the bottom of the ladder should not be discouraged but should all receive findings from this survey as a great opportunity and a catalyst for ‘change’.

The 2018 report is the third national level NNHS/SMART survey, the first and second being in 2014 and 2015 respectively. Consequently, NNHS provides up-to-date information on the situation of health and nutrition as well as measures the ‘Saving One Million Lives Program for Results (SOML-PforR) key indicators and other health related indicators