Wednesday, October 21, 2020
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By Lindi Bi Nabain — The Secretary of State in charge of Epidemic and Pandemic Control in the Ministry of Public Health has reiterated Government’s determination to significantly ameliorate infant and maternal health. Alim Garga Hayatou was speaking during the closing ceremony of a nationwide sensitisation and mobilisation caravan on malnutrition that brought together administrative authorities, mayors, traditional and religious leaders recently at the Maroua City Hall.

The Secretary of State said through its health policy, Government has been very attentive to infant and maternal health situation of the population and said, it will continue to combat the phenomenon. He said amongst other things that malnutrition is preoccupying and requires concerted efforts of people from all strata of the society to combat it.

“Our responsibility through actions will be able to ameliorate significantly not only malnutrition but also infant and maternal health. We are going to intensify mobilisation, sensitisation and training of personnel,” Alim Hayatou said. Hayatou was in Maroua for a three-day working visit with the aim of sensitising the population of the region on how to better fight against malnutrition.

Statistics from UNICEF indicates that Cameroon represents 14 percent of malnourished children in Central Africa and 44 percent of malnourished people in the CEMAC zone. Cameroon loses yearly about FCFA 354 billion because malnutrition is not given priority hence, the sum of FCFA 15,650 will have to be invested in a child per year in order to significantly reduce malnutrition in the country.

Prior to Alim’s visit, UNICEF had organised a caravan to sensitise and mobilise administrative authorities, mayors, traditional and religious leaders against malnutrition. Governor Augustine Awa Fonka had reminded the authorities on the key role they have to play as opinion leaders to reversing the trends of malnutrition in the region. He underscored the need to sensitise the population on the dangers of malnutrition in order to spur their involvement in the fight.

According to statistics, Awa Fonka said the Far North is the worst hit by all the different types of malnutrition identified. He said, “Out of 660,000 children of less than five years, 57,000 are very thin, 244,000 do not have the same height as their peers of the same age, 4 out of 5 children are not well breast feed and about 420,000 of them are anaemic… malnutrition is the cause of the death of 60,000 children of less than five years every year in the region.”

Meanwhile, Alim Hayatou visited the refugee camp in Minawao, in Mokolo, Mayo Tsanaga Division, where some 2,334 Nigerian refugees now reside. He reassured the refugees of Government’s continued support to enable them live comfortably in the camp. He equally donated medical equipment to the Gadala Health Centre.

In a related development, out of 440 children of 6-59 months screened, some 40 cases of malnutrition ague severe was detected, which means they are too thin; 182 of them suffered from the moderate type of malnutrition. Our source added that presently, eight children suffer from moderate malnutrition, adding that they are being followed up through a therapeutic treatment.

He said it is the handiwork of La Croix Rouge Francaise with the collaboration of UNICEF, which has deplored two volunteers at the camp to ensure the daily follow-up of the malnourished children and sensitisation of their mothers in ameliorating the health situation of their children.

First published in The Post print edition no 01511