By Sule Aliyu, Bauchi
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has commended the Bauchi State Government for being the only state in the country to have devoted 16 percent of its budget to the health sector.
UNICEF Chief of Field Office in Bauchi State, Abdullai Kaikai, made the commendation in a goodwill message at the opening ceremony of a two-day capacity development workshop for legislators from the North East in Gombe recently,.
The workshop organised by the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has among other objectives, deepening understanding of legislation on health financing and UHC and developing legislative health agenda.
Kaikai, who was represented at the event by Philomena Irene, a nutrition specialist, said the workshop was strategic as legislators from the states would review progress made on state-specific action plans developed to improve maternal and child nutrition in the country.
He noted that malnutrition was on the increase in Nigeria, with a recent Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey report showed an increase in child wasting from 24.2 to 31.5 percent while stunting had increased from 34.8 to 43.6 percent.
Kaikai stated that nearly half of all child deaths in Northern Nigeria are related to poor nutrition.
“The right to food and nutrition is a fundamental right among others to ensure the survival of the child and development of the society and nation as a whole,” he said. “Addressing nutrition is of importance for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly those related to hunger, child and maternal health, food security and education.”
Kaikai further noted that investment in nutrition is cost-effective but would help in reversing negative trends as well as boost GDP, stressing that a 2017 World Bank report revealed that “for every 1, 000 Naira invested on nutrition would yield a 16, 000 naira return”.
While describing legislators as critical in appropriation, legislation, accountability, and oversight towards improving maternal and child’s health, he urged them to make adequate provisions in the 2018 state budgets.
By Sule Aliyu, Bauchi