The Pediatrics Association of Nigeria on Tuesday pledged to support efforts of government and other stakeholders to drastically reduce the high rate of death 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, adding that the association would also support policies and programmes to tackle high child death in the country.
She stressed that most of the deaths were preventable, and could be tackled through exclusive breastfeeding, accessing antenatal care, vaccination against killer diseases, environmental cleanliness, use of treated mosquito nets, and hand washing.
Ibeziaku added that the association would continue its advocacy for the provision of safe drinking water, protecting children against child labor, drug abuse and patronage of health facilities for medication.
She noted that Nigeria’s indices on child death were alarming, and every Nigerian needed to contribute towards safe motherhood and the upbringing of children.
“Everywhere in the world, it is the health indicators concerning children especially those under-5, that they use to determine the state of development of nations.
“Unfortunately for us in Nigeria with our large population, our prenatal and neonatal mortality and morbidity rates is one of the highest in the world.
“The same for our under-5 mortality rate, that is children aged under-5. Many of our children don’t live to celebrate their first birthday and even those that did, don’t live to celebrate their fifth birthday, which is a landmark in the life of any child.
“When we look at the under-5 figures, we find that children in the first one month of life contribute more than 45 percent 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 reports that the theme of the four-day conference is “Consolidating child health development in Nigeria through SDGs; Gains and Gaps of the MDGs.”