The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) says it is collaborating with Nigerian Government to ensure local production of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) to address nutritional needs of malnourished children.
UNICEF Nutrition Specialist, Mr Zakaria Fusheini, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Abuja, and said that the organization was providing technical support in the partnership.
Fusheini assured of UNICEF’s continuous support and encouragement in the process to ensure that the nation met world standard of quality that secured the health and life of children.
He said “RUTF which is also called `magic food’ is a medication, a specialised package of food produced specifically for those children who are severely malnourished, who could die if they do not get treatment.
“The raw material is basically peanuts but there are other concentration of vitamins and other important nutrients.
“As funding become limited in Nigeria we also try to prioritise for states to look at the urgent need of interventions.
“Therapeutic food is mostly delivered to the northern part where there is severity of malnutrition problem.
“UNICEF is working with the government of Nigeria to provide some technical support to be able to get some local companies that can manufacture therapeutic food (RUTF) locally to make it more affordable for the people.’’
Fusheini, who decried the inadequacy of RUTF to meet the needs of large number of children severely malnourished, however, said producing it locally in the right standard would make it more affordable and accessible.
According to him, government should support the possibility of getting this local production and ensure that companies that are established to manufacture it meet the required standard and protocols.
He emphasized that failure to meet those standard would endanger the lives of the children and further worsen their situation thereby leading to their death.
“If a child is severely malnourished, the organs, the system is not working as it is supposed to, but at this point, diseases have set in and there are changes within the system.
“So, he cannot absorb the nutrient as we do; in that case, you need a kind of therapeutic approach that will enable the system absorb the required nutrient in the body, which is RUTF.