400000children in north-east Nigeria at risk of severe acute malnutrition
.according to rapporteur report from UNICEF, link ,The family fled their village in a rural area of Borno state earlier this year due to the ongoing Boko Haram-related crisis. Now they live in an Internally Displaced Person (IDP) camp in the state capital Maiduguri. The camp is home to an estimated 20,000 people – 8,000 of those are children under the age of five.
Fanna says Umara has been ill for the past few week. He is showing physically signs of severe acute malnutrition. The bones on his chest and back are prominent. The skin around his arms and legs is loose.
Today, Fanna brought Umara to a UNICEF-supported medical clinic that's situated within the camp. A dozen or so other women are also there with their babies. They sit patiently on a long bench inside the tent, trying to keep their children entertained while they wait to be seen.
When it's Umara's turn, UNICEF Nutrition Officer Aishat Mohammed Abdullahi measures the circumference of Umara's mid-upper arm (MUAC). It's 9 cm – a healthy baby's measurement would be 12.5 cm. Next Umara is weighed. He's just 4.2 kg.
"The child is severely malnourished and dehydrated," explains Abdullahi. "Umara looks very down, he doesn’t laugh, he doesn’t play, he does not look okay at all."
Umara is immediately given life-saving treatment. Abdullahi shows Fanna how to feed her son with a packet of Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUFT). RUFT is a peanut-based paste that's high in calories and full of added vitamins and minerals. Three packets a day, for eight weeks can save the life of a child with severe acute malnutrition. Lying in his mother's arms, Umara slowly but surely eats the food. Before he's allowed home, the health team put him on a course of extra vitamin A, antibiotics and anti-malarial medicine.
Umara is one of more than 117,000 children across north-east Nigeria who is part of a UNICEF therapeutic feeding programme. But there are still thousands more who need urgent help.
UNICEF estimates that 400,000 children in north-east Nigeria will suffer severe acute malnutrition this year. Without treatment, approximately one in five of those children – more than 75,000 – is likely to die.
A week later, Umara's back at the clinic for his second screening. There's a small, but steady improvement. His arm is plumper, at 9.7 cm and he's put on a little weight – the scales read 4.3 kg.
But it's at Umara's third screening that the improvement is more visible. He's put on yet more weight - 5.1 kg – and his arm circumference is now 10 cm. He's still classified as severely malnourished, but the improvement, both physically and in terms of his general well-being, had made staff optimistic that he will make a full recovery if he continues on the feeding programme.
"When Umara came for the third visit, he was looking okay," says Abdullahi smiling. "He was playing, laughing, he does not have any problem."
Umara's mother Fanna looks visibly relieved. For the first time since we met three weeks, she smiles as she holds a bright and engaged Umara in her arms.
"He can play, eat and drink now!" she says. "He is not being sick anymore. He is so happy!"