From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi
One in every 10 children born in Nigeria dies before the fifth birthday due to factors which include non-adherence to safety measures like registration and attendance of health facilities for antenatal, immunisation, exclusive breastfeeding among others.
Also, no fewer than 102 deaths are recorded per 1,000 births while almost 100 children die as a result of severe acute malnutrition.
These were made known at separate one-day media media dialogues organised by the National Committee on Food and Nutrition (NCFN), an agency of the Federal Government and the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia State (BCA), in collaboration with UNICEF on dissemination of Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) 2021 in Ikeja Lagos and Port Harcourt, Rivers State, respectively, yesterday.
A communique issued at the end of the MICS’ programme charged journalists to interpret the data contextually so that the audience will understand the issues and be able to take actions for improvement, advising that instead of patronising traditional health attendants, mothers should register early at health facilities to avoid complication and reduce mortality rates.
The meeting applauded UNICEF for continued commitment to ensuring public education on elimination of harmful practices against women and children and urged government as well as other corporate bodies to complement their efforts and programmes by improving the welfare of women and children.
It also resolved that the media should improve and increase its media programmes tailored to sensitise people and institutions to understand and embrace the need to stop traditional and cultural practices that are inimical to development of women and children.
The meeting expressed happiness that early marriage rates have reduced from 44% to 30% since 2016 and urged stake holders to sustain the tempo for continued reduction.
The meeting was disappointed that some states have remained low in rating as it concerns exclusive breastfeeding, early attendance to antenatal services, routine immunization, birth registration and called for improved compliance to reduce these gloomy pictures.
Journalists and media chief executives drawn from 11 states in South South, South East and North Central zones attended the meeting.
Objectives of the meeting was to galvanise actions, unify with government and persons in position to take favourable action for children and women’s welfare and to also call the media to action for increased reportage of children and women’s situation.
In 1990, a National Committee on Food and Nutrition (NCFN) was established and domiciled in the then Federal Ministry of Science and Technology, to, among other things, coordinate food and nutrition actions and formulate a National Food and Nutrition Policy, with a National Plan of Action.