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Nigeria: Malnutrition cases souring higher, demand urgent humanitarian assistance – MSF’s Country Representative, Dr. Tirima

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By Anthony Maliki, Abuja

The Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has called for an urgent scale-up of humanitarian assistance to checkmate the spiralling cases of malnutrition across Nigeria.

MSF’s Country Representative in Nigeria, Dr Simba Tirima made this known at a press café in Abuja on Tuesday. “The catastrophic nutritional situation seen in recent years in northern Nigeria calls for a bigger response,” he said.

He said despite the alarming situation, the overall humanitarian response remains inadequate and other non-profit organisations active in the north are also overwhelmed.

Dr. Tirima said the United Nations and Nigerian authorities issued an urgent appeal in May for $306.4 million to address the pressing nutritional needs in Borno, Adamawa, and Yobe states as it will insufficient ignoring as it does other parts of northern Nigeria where needs also outweigh the current capacity of the organisations to respond sufficiently.

He said Nigerian authorities, international organisations and donors must take immediate action to diagnose and treat malnourished children to prevent associated complications and deaths.

The Country Representative also noted that there must be sustained engagement and long-term initiatives to mitigate the underlying causes of the problem.

He explained that MSF has been warning about the worsening malnutrition crisis for 2022 and 2023 with an even grimmer picture is unfolding in this year and can’t keep repeating these catastrophic scenarios yearly.

According to him, in April 2024, MSF’s medical team in Maiduguri admitted 1,250 severely malnourished children with complications to the inpatient therapeutic feeding centre, doubling the figure for April 2023.

He said MSF was forced to urgently scale up its capacity in Maiduguri by the end of May with the centre accommodating 350 patients, far surpassing the 200 beds initially designated for the peak malnutrition season in July and August.

Dr. Tirima also said at MSF-operated facility at Kafin Madaki hospital in Bauchi State, there was a 188 per cent increase in admissions of severely malnourished children during the first three months of 2024 compared to the same period in 2023.

In Zamfara State, the Country Representative explained that the inpatient centres in Shinkafi and Zurmi have received up to 30 per cent more monthly admissions in April compared to March while Talata Mafara facility saw about 20 per cent increase in the same period.

Similarly, he said, MSF inpatient facilities in Kano and Sokoto are also reporting alarming surges by 75 and 100 per cent respectively.

The therapeutic feeding centre in Kebbi state also documented a rise of more than 20 per cent in inpatient admissions from March to April, Dr. Tirima said. (Photos: Courtesy MSF)

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