What hope as pneumonia, diarrhea kills more children in Nigeria?
By Osaigbovo Iguobaro, Benin
Pneumonia was recently reported to be the leading cause of child deaths in Nigeria, a position previously held by malaria over the years. In 2015; about 17 per cent (127,000 deaths) and 10 percent (75,000) of all under-five deaths were caused by pneumonia and diarrhea, respectively.
As the world grapple with this thorny issue – Pneumonia, which has overtaken malaria as the number one killer disease among children under the age of five in Nigeria is regarded as one of the common childhood illnesses, as revealed by the International Vaccines Access Centre (IVAC).
Jean Gough, the United Nations International Children Emergency Fund (UNICEF) Representative in Nigeria, has repeatedly warned that “lack of exclusive breastfeeding is implicated in the current high rate of child malnutrition in Nigeria; while exclusive breastfeeding should be the first strategy in fighting child malnutrition.
What is the key to unlocking the big story and throw back the embarrassment of economic recession, food insecurity, high unemployment and the near-total collapse of the health system occasioned by lack of access to health care in Nigeria?
In a bid to help narrow the gap of survival of mothers and new born in the face of competing needs, peculiarity, and limited resources, UNICEF in collaboration with the National Orientation Agency, Edo state Directorate; provided a platform to sensitize and train Volunteer Community Mobilizers (VCM’s) in some parts of Edo state and fortify themselves against preventable killer diseases.
They came to provoke a response without hesitation. This time, Esan North East Local Government Council of Edo state for the 3-Day trainning programme for faith, Community based Organizations, religious leaders Non-Governmental Organisations and other stakeholders.
The fruitful exercise was meant to strengthen their resolve to build capacity and educate the people to shun risky behaviours within the swaths of influence, in order not to be on the wrong side of history.
At the Secretariat of Esan North East Local Government Council, venue of the event which begun 14th December 2016, featured paper presentations on exclusive breastfeeding, malaria prevention, control and treatment as well as food and Nutrition etc at record time.
The choice of language and pattern of presentation of the Facilitators surfed on the wave of goodwill of existing relationship between them and the locals, serenaded around the Assembly, reshaped human lives.
The programme which cuts across the world of politics, business, age, sex, gender, and religion, renewed call for a concrete model to the people a sense of belonging and make the voices count on key household practices and other issues of concern where it matters.
Edo state Director, National Orientation agency, Mrs. Magdalene Umunna, briefed participants and resource persons on the purpose of the gathering and called for voluntary commitment to end preventable deadly diseases affecting women and Children especially.
Umunna goodwill message on the programme was delivered by Tsetimi Eyituoyo, an Official in the agency. His views were corroborated by UNICEF local resource person, Tim Idowu moderated the sessions.
Idowu contended that being (VCM’s), was not conceived as a self-serving racket, but, a task to render selfless service to humanity, especially women and Children and elderly people in society.
Idowu who was flanked by UNICEF desk Officer at NOA office in Benin, Pastor Chris Obaweki, encouraged participants to be United in the fight against deadly diseases by imbibing good sanitary habit.
“We should be passionate in whatever we do at all times in order to achieve maximum results”, raising pertinent questions concerning myths and misconceptions about maternal and Reproductive health.
Delivering a paper on “common Childhood illness”, Edo state Immunisation Officer in the state Ministry of Health, Mrs. Aikhuele Justina, formulated four major symptoms and six steps in management, prevention of diarrhea, cold, Pneumonia and fever as well as the importance of Immunization in the life of Children.
According to her, “Immunization serves as defense or safeguard for the body and prevent Children from becoming vulnerable to disease attack” which often result in loss of lives, especially if such cases are reported late or not properly handled by experts.
In his report on exclusive breastfeeding, Edo state Nutrition Officer, attached to the state Ministry of Health, James Uwaifoh, harped on the right dietary habit as a recipe against deadly diseases such as malnutrition, cholera, diarrhea and other deadly diseases which often result to deaths of Children between age 0 and five.
He called for positive change in lifestyle to promote wellness, especially among the ageing population. Uwaifoh, who relied on some relevant authorities to support his claims, said, only 25 percent of breastfeeding mothers in the state were truly committed to exclusive breastfeeding of their Children.
“Food and Nutrition must be taken seriously. Many people pay less attention to food and Nutrition have lost control of their Children…In Edo state, exclusive breastfeeding is 25 percent, which means that in every 10 breastfeeding mothers, only three are committed to exclusive breastfeeding. Others are deceiving themselves and pretending”.
The Paper delivered by the Focal person, roll back malaria, Esan North East Local Government Area, Dr. Osazee Arasomwan who offers a glimpse into the malaria, urged the participants to shun risky behaviours that could predispose them to mosquito bites and dirty environment, insisting however, that malaria prevention is better than cure.
For Mrs. Helen Ehigie, state Health Educator attached to the state Ministry of Health, dwelled on the importance of anti-natal care in the lives of Children and expectant mothers whom he tasked on Child spacing and other harmful practices which could result to still births, deformity in Children.
She insisted that it is extremely difficult to mobilise people around old ideas to check the gravest predicament of life and expect to get new results during voluntary health services.
Mrs. Ehigie, assisted by other health Officials and other local resource persons, also made a practical demonstration of hand washing exercise.
Evangelist Godfrey Iyoha from Efandion, Ward 8, Esan North Easl Local Government Area, listed family pressure, lack of skilled Cooks, low income and fragile economic power of women as responsible why most underprivileged breastfeeding mothers in Nigeria develop apathy for “exclusive breastfeeding”.
The participants are expected to do a postmortem of the knowledge they have acquired from the training programme and draw up an action plan that would ensure that preventive measures are taken not to rollback common killer diseases of Children and women of Child bearing age.
A structure would be put in place to compliment the efforts of workers across the 22 primary Healthcare centres (PHC’s) in the Local Government Council and keep obtain data on anti-natal care attendants to help monitor the compliance. They are also to ensure that births registration and other health related issues of concern do not end a a bye product of a confiscated idea.
To give everyone a reason to cheer, UNICEF desk officer at NOA office in Benin, Pastor Chris Obaweki along with other project Facilitators as a matter of priority, have disclosed plans to hold quarterly meeting with the PHC’s workers to ease the danger of moving backward and plan for future hence it is impossible to succeed in isolation.