The nutrition situation across Borno, Adamawa and Yobe (BAY) states remains of great concern with increased rates of acute malnutrition attributed to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, poor sanitation conditions during the ongoing rainy season, and reduced access to adequate food during the lean season. The number of severe acute malnutrition (SAM) cases admitted to nutrition treatment programmes continues is higher than last year a 50-per-cent increase in mortality rate was reported in June and July.
Currently in the BAY states, four children are dying of malnutrition every day (overall reported mortality rate for 2020). To save lives and generally reduce mortality rates, the Nutrition Sector partners require Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), supplementary foods to expand Moderate Acute Malnutrition (MAM) treatment, funding to expand the stabilization centres capacities, and Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) tapes.
In July 2020, Nutrition Sector partners reached 30,680 caregivers with the “Mother MUAC” approach bringing the total number of caregivers reached since the start of the scale-up to 304,935 caregivers across the region. The mother MUAC approach involves training of caregivers on how to measure and screen for malnutrition, as well as providing MUAC measuring tapes to the households.
In July 2020, Nutrition Sector partners admitted 24,480 severely malnourished children into treatment programmes including 23,472 in the outpatient therapeutic programmes (OTP) and 1,362 severely malnourished children with medical complications into the stabilization centres (SCs).
The total number of severely malnourished children admitted so far in 2020 is approximately 50 per cent of the annual target. Over 90 per cent of all children in the OTPs and SCs have been discharged as cured; however, the mortality rate significantly increased by 50% compared to the previous months. This is mostly due to late reporting of medical complications by caregivers and is attributed to the initial COVID-19 movement restrictions and caregivers’ fear of contracting COVID-19 if they attend health facilities.
To prevent and treat MAM cases, Sector partners reached 120,614 children between six and 23 months, 4,081 children between 24 and 59 months and 60,496 pregnant and breastfeeding women from food insecure households through the blanket supplementary feeding programme (BSFP). Partners also reached 4,629 children ages six to 59 months with MAM through the facility-based targeted supplementary feeding programme (TSFP) in selected communities in Jere and Kaga LGAs in Borno State and 10 LGAs across Yobe State. Sector partners also reached 25,695 children with micronutrient supplementation powders (MNP) in addition to nutrition and health education.
The number of children reached is approximately 50 per cent of the monthly Sector target. Sector partners continue to strengthen the integration of MNP distribution across other health and nutrition interventions and engaging community health workers to promote its benefits.
Main challenges faced during the lean season included the limited capacity of stabilization centres to cope with the increased rates of SAM cases with medical complications. The Sector collaborated with the Nigeria Humanitarian Fund (NHF) to maintain and scale-up capacity of stabilization centres in Borno and Yobe. The Sector is also working with partners to improve the quality of care in the SCs to reduce mortality rates.
The drop in the implementation of community-based activities such as mass MUAC screening for acute malnutrition, in an effort to contain COVID-19, is limiting the enrolment of moderately malnourished children in both the BSFP and facility based TSFP. The Sector is still facing shortages of MUAC tapes to provide to households, to ameliorate the impacts of reduced screening by community health workers.
The ongoing rainy season, and accompanying incidents of flooding, has worsened the poor road network resulting in delayed delivery of specialized nutrition supplies especially for BSFP and TSFP beneficiaries.
There is a growing number of under-nourished and separated infants as a result of COVID-19 pandemic and ongoing armed conflict. Prevention and management of wastage among infants, particularly for the non-breastfed is a highly technical and resource demanding initiative which is unavailable at the moment.