Borno, September 2016: Ten months old Classic Madumeri came to the
immunization post for the two drops of polio vaccine but got another
life-saving opportunity. The fourth child of the Madumeris
screened for Severe Acute Malnutrition at the Maisandari Ward immunization
post, Maiduguri Municipal Council in Borno State Nigeria.
Her 11.30 cm Classic‘s Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) reading
brought a verdict of severe acute malnutrition (SAM), a life
threatening condition that requires urgent treatment.
The second round of the polio
outbreak response during the last week of September 2016 utilized the
polio infrastructure to identify and treat children, like Classic, with
severe malnutrition. Classic is the last of four children,
originally from Imo State, one of the South East States in Southern
Nigeria. “We have been here for about 10 years. I breastfed
Classic exclusively for 3 months but my business would not allow me to
do this for 6 months. I used to take all the time to ensure she
was fed well, even while at the hospital during the period after her
birth. “But recently I started noticing she was losing weight,
had fever, cough I became worried. Thank God I have this
opportunity for immunization and a solution to this loss of weight,”
Victoria Madumeri, Classics mother, says. She had resorted to an
unhealthy practice of bottle-feeding and other local practice of
complimentary feeding resulting into many hospital visits in the past.
With a MUAC of 11.30 Classic was eligible for SAM treatment and promptly
referred to a nearby UNICEF Out-Patient Treatment (OPT) Centre within
the vicinity. The OPT Centre is part of an integrated polio
immunization response combined with treatment of malnutrition among
children under five in Borno State, Nigeria. “Classic has not
been thriving well. Ever since she started to grow teeth I have noticed
a number of things that were unusual. She has lost appetite,
hardly keeps food down and also purges,” says her mother.
Nigeria adopted an integrated implementation
whereby the polio infrastructure is utilized as a platform for
detection and treatment of malnutrition cases in Borno State.
Classic is among the many cases detected in the second round of the
polio Outbreak Response (OBR), late September. No fewer than 800,000
children under 5 years were reached on Severe Acute Malnutrition
The 10 month old, and many other children, is
one of the casualties of several years of unrest in North-eastern Nigeria.
Instability due to the activities of the Boko Haram insurgency dates
back to 2009, with the Nigerian government declaring a state of
emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States, the 3 worst affected
states in the country. The insurgency led to one of the worst
humanitarian crisis in North-eastern Nigeria, exposing an estimated
400,000 children under five years to acute malnutrition. Most of
the children require life-saving assistance, most especially as more
are being reached in conflict-affected areas of the region.
At the UNICEF supported OPT Centre OPT,
Classic received RUTF and other necessary medication for malnutrition.
The campaign is also taking place in the newly accessible areas in the
state and with an estimated 800,000 children under 5 years to be
reached. The advent of the ready to use therapeutic foods (RUTF)
has further simplified treatment allowing large numbers of children who
are severely malnourished and without medical complications, like
Classic, to be managed at the community level.
New insight is being gained daily
on the impact of the Boko Haram related crisis on children in Nigeria.
SAM remains a major problem in the country, especially as new areas in
the North east becomes accessible to humanitarian assistance. No fewer
than 2.6 million conflict-affected people have had access to
UNICEF-supported preventative healthcare services and about 75,000
children have been treated for severe acute malnutrition in northeast
Nigeria since January 2016. Nigeria institutes series of
coordinated response to polio outbreak in the North east after
two-years of stoppage of transmission of the polio virus in the