USAID, Stakeholders To Combat Malnutrition Through Enhanced Access To RUTF

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R-L: The USAID Mission director, Dr. Anne Patterson with the First Lady of Bauchi State and founder of the Al-Muhibbah Foundation, Dr. Aisha Bala Mohammed and a participant during the event.

The United States government, in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the government of Nigeria and various stakeholders have pledged to enhance access to ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) to curb severe acute malnutrition.

The pledge was made during a trade fair in Abuja aimed at promoting innovation and collaboration to tackle severe acute malnutrition.

Dubbed the “Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods (RUTF) and Other Life-saving Nutrition Commodities Expo”, the event provided a platform for government officials, donors and RUTF manufacturers to engage in discussions, share insights, establish connections, and explore opportunities for expanding RUTF programmes. The event also allowed local manufacturers, investors and participants in the RUTF and nutrition commodities value chains to showcase their products and innovations.

In Nigeria, severe acute malnutrition remains a pressing public health challenge, affecting approximately 3.6 million children. Given the persisting issues of food insecurity, limited access to quality healthcare, and insufficient nutrition interventions, the situation demands robust collaboration across various sectors and innovative solutions. Ensuring sustainable local access to affordable life-saving nutrition commodities is crucial to combating severe malnutrition in Nigerian children.

The 2021 Food Consumption and Micronutrients Survey revealed a distressing increase in severe malnutrition among Nigerian children, rising from 7 to 12 per cent over the past five years. Alarmingly, only 2.8 per cent of these children received treatment with therapeutic foods due to inadequate access to RUTF. One avenue for improving access to this life-saving treatment involves focusing on local production and procurement of RUTF. Esteemed local producers, such as Ariel Foods, Emzor Foods, Dabs and Nutri-K, have demonstrated the capacity to sustainably supply these vital nutrition commodities.

Addressing the audience at the event, the USAID Mission director, Dr. Anne Patterson expressed, “This Trade Fair provides a much-needed platform for local manufacturers, investors, and other stakeholders in the RUTF and nutrition commodities value chain to showcase their products and innovations. Furthermore, participants have a valuable opportunity to establish connections and engage with the Nigerian government, donors, implementing partners, and other stakeholders. Our hope is that this trade fair will lay the foundation for meaningful relationships that result in sustainable local access to affordable life-saving nutrition commodities, contributing to the reduction of severe malnutrition in Nigeria”.

The interim chief of party for the USAID-funded Feed the Future Nigeria Rural Resilience Activity, John Rachkara emphasised the transformative impact of this trade fair. He stated, “Supporting local production of specialised nutritious products and facilitating linkages for local sourcing of raw materials will undoubtedly lead to a decrease in the production cost of RUTF. If production costs decrease, we can save more lives with the same amount of resources.”

Rachkara anticipates that the partnerships forged during this event will mark a turning point in Nigeria’s fight against malnutrition, ultimately leading to a brighter future where no child is left malnourished.

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