By Danladi Al-Hassan
The United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) has disclosed that over 34,000 children in Taraba State faced severe acute malnutrition if serious measures were not taken immediately to save the situation.
Bhanu Pathak, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Nigeria, Bauchi Field Office, stated this during a courtesy call on Governor Darius Ishaku on Thursday in Jalingo.
“Currently, Taraba has an estimated 34,419 severe acute malnutrition cases.
“With no health facility to provide treatment, these children will be at risk of dying, if the government does not intervene appropriately and timely.
“Many children who might survive malnutrition in early life are condemned to permanent physical and intellectual disabilities in later life.
“Thus, productivity of the future leaders of the state will be adversely affected,” he said.
Pathak also disclosed that more than 75,000 children under five years were yet to be fully immunised from polio and other child-killer diseases and urged the state government to step up actions to address the issues.
“The UNICEF is also worried that over 75,000 children in the state are not yet fully immunised while over 500,000 children of school age are out of school.
“This is further complicated because of the insurgency in the region which has turned Taraba to a home for most of the people fleeing.
“The internal wrangling has added to the problem.
“We, therefore, urge the state government to step up actions to address these challenges.”
He commended the governor for his commitment to the improvement of health and quality education of children in the state and for attending to the plight of the Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
Pathak, however, said that there was so much needed to be done with more commitment from the state government.
In his response, Governor Ishaku said the state was “immensely grateful to UNICEF for the various interventions in key areas of education, health, nutrition, child protection and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH).“
Ishaku said the state government had made tremendous efforts and recorded great success in the provision of health services, education and the general well being of mothers and children.
He said he is overwhelmed by the challenges posed by the IDPs.
“We have done remarkably well and have recorded great improvement in the provision of quality education and health care services to the people.
“But we have challenges and we need your assistance to deal with the plight of IDPs and the refugees we have coming in from Cameroon.
“I have directed that they should be properly taken care of but we need more assistance to address some of these issues.
“We had hoped to have all our children in school by now but the crisis has affected our plans, “he said.
Ishaku reassured that the government would not relent as it had great plans for children.
“Let me once again thank UNICEF and other partnering agencies for their interests in Taraba.
“I assure you that my government will welcome any intervention for the good of our people and we will always pay our counterpart funds promptly,” Ishiaku said.