The Paediatrics Association of Nigeria (PAN), yesterday, pledged to support government other stakeholders’ efforts to reduce the high death rate among children in Nigeria, put at one million annually.
President of the association, Dr Ngozi Ibeziaku, made the pledge at a press conference in Kaduna, to herald the commencement of the association’s 48th Annual Conference.
She said the focus of the conference would be on child health and evolving strategies to encourage mothers and other stakeholders access health services to ensure the survival of the Nigerian child.
“Children can’t speak for themselves, so, we are their voices”, she said, and added that the association will also support policies and programmes to tackle high child death rate in the country.
She stressed that most of the deaths were preventable and could be tackled through exclusive breast feeding, accessing antenatal care, vaccination against killer diseases, environmental cleanliness, use of treated mosquito nets, and hand washing.
Ibeziaku added that the association will continue its advocacy for the provision of safe drinking water, protecting children against child labour, drug abuse and patronage of health facilities for medication.
She noted that Nigeria’s indices on child deaths are alarming, and every Nigerian needs to contribute towards safe motherhood and the upbringing of children.
“Everywhere in the world its the health indicators concerning children especially those under-five, which are used to determine the state of development of nations.
“Unfortunately, for us in Nigeria, with our large population, our pre-natal and neo-natal mortality and morbidity rates are one of the highest in the world.
“The same for our under-five mortality rate, that is children aged under-five.
“Many of our children don’t live to celebrate their first birthday and even those who do, don’t live to celebrate their fifth birthday, which is a landmark in the life of any child.
“When we look at the under-five figures, we find that children in the first one month of life contribute more than 45 per cent of the deaths of children in the country.
“ So, the great problem is in the first month of life,” the president noted.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported that the theme of the four-day conference is “Consolidating child health development in Nigeria through SDGs; Gains and Gaps of the MDGs.”