In a bid to expand access to treatment for severe acute malnutrition, the United States government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), has donated over 60,000 cartons of Ready-to-use Therapeutic Food (RUTF), which is valued at USD$3.5 million to the governors of Bauchi, Kebbi, and Sokoto states in Nigeria.
The USAID Mission Director, Melissa Jones while speaking at the handover ceremony said in Nigeria, severe acute malnutrition remains a significant public health concern, affecting 3.6 million children, that challenges of food insecurity, limited access to quality healthcare, and inadequate nutrition interventions, multi-sectoral collaboration and innovation is needed. She said expanding sustainable local access to affordable, life-saving nutrition commodities is essential to address severe malnutrition in Nigerian children. Jones noted that US Mission in Nigeria had risen to the challenge by providing RUTF to growers, manufacturers, distributors, and shippers and that USAID has helped make therapeutic food more affordable and accessible.
According to her, the approach collaborates with the government of Nigeria, the private sector, and donor community to strengthen local RUTF manufacturing, to incorporate RUTF into state health systems such as drug revolving funds, and health budgets; to improve the quality of groundnut inputs for manufacturing RUTF; to strengthen the quality of nutrition health services and to integrate humanitarian nutrition services more sustainably. She further remarked that, reducing malnutrition is a critical component of improving health, education, and inclusive economic development. “We commend Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health for including RUTF and other nutrition commodities in the list of essential medicines. Doing so allows this life-saving essential food to be procured and made available at all health facilities”, she added.