The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has commended the Bauchi State Government for being the only state in the country to have devoted 16 percent of its budget to the health sector. UNICEF Chief of Field Office in Bauchi State, Abdullai Kaikai, made the commendation in a goodwill message at the opening ceremony of a two-day capacity development workshop for legislators from the North East on Gombe, on Tuesday.
Represented at the event by Philomena Irene, Nutrition Specialist, Kaikai said the workshop was strategic as legislators from the states would review progress made on state-specific actions plans developed to improve maternal and child nutrition in the country.
He noted that malnutrition was on the increase in Nigeria, with a recent Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey report showed an increase in child wasting from 24.2 to 31.5 percent while stunting had increased from 34.8 to 43.6 percent.
Kaikai stated that the northern part of the country appears to be the worse off, with nearly half of all child’s death related to poor nutrition.
“The right to food and nutrition is a fundamental right among others to ensure the survival of the child and development of the society and nation as a while.
“Addressing nutrition is of importance for achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly those related to hunger, child and maternal health, food security and education,” he said.
Kaikai further noted that investment in nutrition is cost-effective but would help in reversing negative trends as well as boost GDP, stressing that a 2017 World Bank report revealed that “for every 1,000 naira invested on nutrition would yield a 16, 000 naira return”.
While describing legislators as critical in appropriation, legislation, accountability and oversight towards improving maternal and child’s health, he enjoined them to make adequate provisions in the 2018 state budgets.
In a chat with journalists, Ibrahim Bello Katagum, Chairman, House Committee on Health at the Bauchi State House of Assembly, said the government under Governor MA Ábubakar is committed to seeing that the health sector received the utmost attention.
“We discovered that there was near total dilapidation in the primary as well as secondary health sectors. We resolved that the health sector requires a distinctive attention in order to improve healthcare delivery, ” he said.
He disclosed that only days ago, he presented a motion on the floor of the assembly seeking for the state government to scale up activities to fight malnutrition in the state.
“There is need to empower the Primary Health Care Development Agency with all the necessary budgetary allocation and government support,” Katagum added.
He described the workshop as “a positive development” stressing that with the full complement of lawmakers from Bauchi in attendance showed their commitment to improving healthcare delivery.
The workshop organised by the Legislative Network for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) has among other objectives, deepening understanding of legislation on health financing and UHC and developing legislative health agenda.