The Rivers State Government has established Integrative Management of Acute Malnutrition, IMAM, centers to treat under-five malnourished children in the state.

During the launch on Friday at the Kelsey Harrison Hospital, Emenike Mile 2 Diobu Port Harcourt, the state’s Commissioner of Health, Doctor Adaeze Oreh, disclosed that one in nine children under five years old have stunted growth in the state.

Among other reasons, she said this is a result of poor infant and early child feeding practices, adding that data reveals that as of 2021, just 26% of children in the state were exclusively breastfed as recommended.

Doctor Oreh disclosed that some healthcare providers have received training on how to detect cases of malnutrition in different local governments and to promptly administer the proper therapy.

In her welcome address, the Commissioner of Health said, “…in our state, one out of every 9 children who are under the age of 5 are stunted in their growth.

“This situation can be attributed to poor nutrition and young child feeding practices among other causes.

“In addition, through nutritional status assessment of under-five children in the past two rounds of our maternal neonatal and child health week in 2022 and 2023, using mid-upper arm circumference, we identified several children in our state with severe acute malnutrition.

“The objective of the training which we just concluded includes, increased awareness on case identification of malnutrition by our health care providers across several local government areas.”

The Commissioner said the state government is committed to having at least 60% of children in health by 2025, adding that the opening of the IMAM centers will support the proper management and treatment of malnutrition.

“It is important to note that high maternal mortality, high incidents of anemia, and the deficiencies of essential micronutrients have been reported to have adverse effects on the survival and development of our children.

“It is important to note that the launch of these integrated management sites will help to foster the appropriate management and treatment of malnutrition with a variety of other long-term interventions such as nutrition education, infant and young child feeding, and even food security.

“As a government, we are committed to achieving at least 60% of healthy children by the year 2025.

“We are intensifying efforts to ensure that our health facilities provide an enabling environment…” she added.

Beatrice Ali, who spoke on behalf of the Director, Head of Department Federal Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, Ladi Ayebusi, commended the Rivers State Government for successfully establishing IMAM sites in the state.

“I extend my deepest appreciation to the Rivers State Government for taking this bold step in ensuring that IMAM sites are established in the state.

“Your dedication and commitment to this course are truly commendable, and your efforts will undoubtedly contribute to the advancement of IMAM practice in Rivers State.

“May this journey be filled with enlightening experiences and profound insights that will shape our collective effort in combating acute malnutrition in Rivers State.”

DAILY POST reports that the wife of the Rivers State Governor, Valerie Fubara, launched the establishment of the IMAM sites, and was conferred the state’s nutrition champion by the Commissioner of Health.

Rivers Govt moves to tackle growing malnutrition

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