Federal Ministry of Health has said it disbursed over N1.8 billion for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition in 18 states in the last two years.
Head of the nutrition division, Dr. Chris Isokpunwu, who stated this in an interview during the week in Abuja, said the fund was disbursed between 2017 and 2018.
Isokpunwu said, in 2017, the ministry signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with UNICEF for counterpart contribution for the procurement of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).
“Between 2017 and now, the ministry has contributed and disbursed about N1.8 billion as counterpart contribution for the procurement of the commodity.
“The first payment was N600 million, from the 2017 appropriation, the money was used to set up treatment centres, training of health workers and distribution of the RUTF in Anambra, Bayelsa, Edo, Osun, Bauchi and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
“12,000 cartons of the commodity were also distributed in the five states and the FCT,’’ he said.
Isokpunwu stated that, in the 2018 appropriation, the federal government disbursed N1.2 billion to UNICEF, based on the MoU to procure RUTF. He added that the ministry was now in the process of distributing the commodity to 12 more states.
He said the commodity procured under the 2018 appropriation would support the initial five states and the FCT, adding that the ministry identified 18 states with high burden of severe acute malnutrition and wrote letters to the states for expression of interest to address the challenge.
Isokpunwu said that, of the 18 states with the challenge, only 12 states responded and the ministry was already working on modalities for the distribution of the commodity to the states.
He said the ministry was working with UNICEF and other key players on the prevention of malnutrition in Nigeria.
He also expressed concerns that not many states were committed to working on preventing malnutrition and procurement of RUTF in Nigeria.