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Hardship: Malnutrition hits urban, rural communities in Bauchi

The current economic hardship associated with the removal of fuel subsidy which led to a hike in the prices of food items has sparked massive…

The current economic hardship associated with the removal of fuel subsidy which led to a hike in the prices of food items has sparked massive malnutrition among under two-year-old babies in Bauchi State, Daily Trust on Sunday reports.


Investigation indicates that the situation has deprived many low income earners the opportunity to have nutritious food for mothers and compelled them to be giving their children whatever available food that does not contain micronutrients for their development and wellbeing.

Findings revealed that hundreds of nursing mothers, other parents and their malnourished children swarmed the Integrated Management of Acute Malnutrition (IMAN) Centres at the designated primary healthcare centres in three local government areas of Bauchi, Ganjuwa and Ningi.

On 6th May 2024, State Nutrition Officer in Bauchi, Abubakar Saleh, disclosed that a total of 4,384 children with severe acute malnutrition (SAM) have been admitted for treatment across 14 integrated management of acute malnutrition (IMAM) centers in the state.

Saleh, who disclosed this while giving an overview on the nutrition situation in Bauchi State at a 2-day State Committee on Food and Nutrition meeting held in Jos, Plateau State, said that of these numbers, only 451 have completed treatment while the state recorded four deaths in the first quarter of 2024.

The state nutrition officer added that, “The state commenced treatment in February 2024 when we took delivery of 17,000 cartoons of RUTF from USAID”.

Our correspondent who visited the Kofar Ran Primary Healthcare Clinic in Bauchi, he observed dozens of nursing mothers and their malnourished children being attended at the facility and some of the mothers attributed the cause of malnutrition of their children to economic hardship where they could not afford to buy nutritious food.

mothers with their malnourished children
mothers with their malnourished children


A Nutrition Officer at the Kofar Ran Primary Healthcare Clinic in Bauchi, Mrs Rahila Idi Umar disclosed that the persistent rate cases of malnutrition among children between 0-23 months and above is increasing day by day in the hospital, saying, the clinic records over 100 new cases of malnutrition every week,, “We do register over 100 children suffering from acute and severe new cases of malnutrition in the centre.”

She said most of the cases received were mostly coming from the rural communities and neighbouring villages who lacks the access of health facilities and coming to the hospital for antenatal services, adding that one of the reasons why the rate is growing in number is that most of the affected mothers failed to embrace the exclusive breastfeeding, family planning system. Also, for others, it is due to extreme poverty hence they cannot not afford to get nutritional foods for the mother and the baby.

One of the nursing mothers, Zainab Abubakar revealed that she was been forced by her mother-in-law to give her child water due to low breast milk associated with health problems and poverty, adding “She told me that if I didn’t give the child water, there is every tendencies that the child would die, and because of my fear not to lose the child, I started giving him the water and subsequently develop malnutrition.”

Another mother of twin malnourished from Dabe village who gave her name as Saadatu, said “I came to receive malnutrition food RUTF supplements because we are poor people. My husband is a peasant farmer and we have seven children including these twin babies. That’s why every week I come to collect the RUTF for my children because it is helping them. As you can see, before they were not healthy like this but now their health condition is improving gradually”.

A visit to Yelwa Domiciliary Healthcare Centre, Bauchi indicated that about 400 malnourished babies are recorded on Wednesdays and Thursdays, which serve as nutrition day.

The Nutrition Officer at the Yelwa 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 making a total of 400 cases per week.”

Mukhtar explained that the economic situation in the country is contributing to the burden of malnutrition because, it is not everyone that can afford to get what is required and the recommended daily allowance of protein and basic nutrients for their body.

Mukhtar attributed the problems to family poverty, selection of foods during pregnancy and economic hardship. “When they come, we teach them a combination of homemade nutritious food. Some of the cases we had in the past have recovered and are doing well.

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.”

All efforts made to get Bauchi State government update on the situation through the state Commissioner of Health, Dr Adamu Sambo met a brick wall as he declined to pick several calls and did not reply to a text message sent to him at the time of filing this report.

Another effort to get the reactions of the Executive Chairman of Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, Dr Rilwanu Mohammed was not successful as he neither picked calls nor replied to a text message on his mobile phone and his WhatsApp account.

But a staff at the nutrition department, Bauchi State Primary Healthcare Development Agency, who preferred not to be named confirmed to Daily Trust on Sunday the upsurge of malnutrition across Bauchi, “The situation is even worrisome in rural communities who have no health facilities to handle malnutrition because we have only three LGAs of Bauchi, Ganjuwa and Ningi that have malnutrition management centres and we don’t know what is happening in the rest of 17 LGAs.”

The source, “The Ministry Health is aware of the upsurge of malnutrition in Bauchi because we are the ones given them Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic-Food (RUTF) and we are taken some measures, although it is a routine measure of enlightenment on preventive measures at the health facilities.

“Our major challenge now is the issue of food insecurity in the country because even if you educate a mother about exclusive breastfeeding and other good practices to prevent malnutrition, she (mother) doesn’t have food to eat not to talk of feeding her child.

The source explained that it is the negative effects of fuel subsidy removal that leads to hike of prices of food items; therefore, all these nursing mothers don’t have access to the food, so malnutrition would set-in and that is the major reason for the upsurge in malnutrition in Bauchi

“On our part, sensitisation and other interventions are ongoing across the PHCs and in communities where officials and volunteers are educating mothers on food demonstration and other health talks during the ANC to the women. But we advise women to select varieties of food items to make nutritious food and was unlucky to get them. The current situation is beyond our capacity as an agency because we cannot provide food to the mothers except the government might likely afford to give them food to cushion the effects of the hardship or provide support and empower the affected mothers.

Responding to the availability of RUTF, the source said, “We have RUTF in stock, although sometimes RUTF may not be a solution to the patients because RUTF is for malnourished children who are on admission. The RUTF is only distributed in only three LGAs of Bauchi, Ganjuwa and Ningi. The only remedy for now, it is preventative measures to mitigate the rising cases of malnutrition.”

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