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NPHCDA adopts PPP for local production of therapeutic food

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The National Primary Health Care Development Agency (NPHCDA) says it will adopt Public Private Partnership (PPP) strategy to bring technology for the local production of Ready to Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF).

Dr Faisal Shuaib, the Executive Director, NPHCDA, said this at a one-day retreat organised by the Association of Nigeria Health Journalists (ANHEJ) in collaboration with International Society of Media in Public Health (ISMPH) on Friday in Abuja.

The local production of RUTF was geared toward integrating the treatment of severe acute malnutrition at Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) to tame the rising cases of the condition in Nigeria.

The retreat had its theme as: `Facilitating the inclusion of child nutrition as a major component in the Basic Health Care Provision Fund (BHCPF)’.

Shuaib, represented by Dr Oladimeji Olayinka, the Director, Primary Health Care Systems Development, said the local production of RUTF would remove the cost of shipping and ancillary expenses on the commodity.

He added that the local production of the commodity would also reduce the cost of the packet to about N1,500 from N6,000 its current price.

He explained that under this special arrangement, the RUTF would be affordable to be provided under the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) through the BHCPF.

The executive director said the agency was reaching its partners such as Dangote group and other international partners to ensure that the technology was available in Nigeria and obtain necessary permissions to commence production.

According to him, childhood malnutrition is one of the public health challenges in Nigeria which is responsible for not less than 30 per cent of mortality of children under five years.

He also noted that childhood malnutrition was one of the major challenges in most states across the country including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

He said the degree of the severity spread however varies from state to state with North eastern states worst affected due to the activities of the insurgents in the region.

Similarly, the Executive Director of ISMPH, Mrs Moji Makonjuola, urged government and other relevant stakeholders to increase funding of nutrition activities in the country.

She also advocated for the local production of RUTF, stressing that the foreign RUTF is expensive.

Makonjuola said key stakeholders such as the ministry of agriculture, the private sector and scientists should ensure that the production of the ingredients needed for RUTF comprised quality materials.

She said United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) estimated that no fewer than 2.5 million children below the age five years suffer from severe acute malnutrition in Nigeria annually.

She noted that it was a shame that Nigeria was having severe acute malnutrition now and tasked the media to rise against the challenge.

Earlier, Mr Hassan Zaggi, the President, Association of Nigeria Health Journalists, said the media should raise public awareness on the effects of malnutrition to attract more investment to reduce the burden.