United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF, has introduced the use of cell phone reporting system in the management of Severe Acute Malnutrition, SAM, which currently stands at 2.5 million among children in Northern Nigeria.
The aim is to fast track the life saving services provided at the implementation sites to ensure these children survive, thrive and grow up in good health as UNICEF aims to halt the trend.
Robert Justin, UNICEF nutrition specialist and resource person at the one-day workshop who spoke in Gombe on Wednesday said the essence was to remove the bureaucratic bottlenecks involved in SAM management system.
He said by reporting with cell phones, using the Short Message Service, SMS, “we intend to have data moving very quickly to the Federal level and back down to the state and local government areas.
“We hope to remove the implementation bottlenecks to make this life-saving intervention more functional and more effective for the Nigerian children.
“At the end, we would have taken the data from the donkey carts to an aeroplane to make sure that it is going fast to where we need to review it and provide analysis and turn around so we can improve the quality of services”.
He said the cell phone reporting technology tagged Mobile Based Health Management Information System was toll-free on MTN and Airtel mobile networks as they were collaborating with UNICEF in driving the programme.
He said the pilot scheme conducted two years ago in Abuja was satisfactory and UNICEF was now ready to scale up, starting with Gombe as the first state in Nigeria.
He further said the aim was to reach out to the malnourished children across Africa, considering that if the programme succeeded in Nigeria, it could succeed anywhere in the world.
Present at the training were 50 participants drawn from the three implementing local governments of Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition, CMAM, the state Ministry of Health and the media.
CMAM is currently implemented in three local government areas of Gombe State, namely Dukku, Gombe and Nafada with each one having five centres.
Globally, Severe Acute Malnutrition is seasonal and the impact is more serious in the hunger season or period of food scarcity, the period between sowing and harvest seasons.
Justin said UNICEF was committed to reducing the global prevalence of SAM to the barest minimum, especially the factors that make the trend seasonal.

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