From Scholastica Onyeka, Makurdi
The United Nations Children’s Fund, (UNICEF), has said that child and maternal mortality rates will be reduced by early attendance to health facilities instead of traditional health attendants.
This observation was made during a one day media dialogue with journalists organized by the Broadcasting Corporation of Abia state, (BCA), in collaboration with UNICEF on dissemination of Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey, (MICS) 2021, held in Port Harcourt, Rivers state.
Objectives of the meeting was to galvanize 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.
According to the MICS report, 1 in every 10 children born in Nigeria dies before the fifth birthday due to many factors among which includes non adherence to safety measures like registration and attendance of health facilities for antenatal, immunization, exclusive breastfeeding among others.
A communique issues at the end of the programme journalists were charged to interprete the data contextually so that the audience will understand the issues and be able to take actions for improvement advising that instead of patronizing 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 and 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 sensitize 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 political zones of Nigeria attended the meeting.