Daily Champion (Lagos)

3 March 2011

Nigeria: One Million Children Die Annually in the Country

NIGERIAN parents lose over one million children every year to preventable child killer diseases. Out of the figure, 241, 000 of the deceased children die at birth.

Former Health Minister, Prof. Adenike Grange who spoke at the opening ceremony of the First African International Baby Exhibition (AFRIBABY), at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba, Lagos, specified that all the deaths occur before the age of five

With the gloomy figure, Nigeria still bears one tenth of the world's mortality burden.

The Minister who is also the special guest of honour at the occasion said that the 9 million children that die every year world wide before the age of fiive, 97 per cent of them die in low or middle income countries, and approximately from the poorest and most marginalized communities within those countries.

A child she said dies every three seconds while four million of these children die within first month of their birth.

Prof. Grange who is also Provost/CEO, Otunba Tunwase National Paediatric Centre, Ijebu -Ode also revealed that 52, 900 Nigerian women die annually from pregnancy related complication out of a global figure of 529,000 maternal deaths.

According to her, a woman's chance of dying from pregnancy and child birth in Nigeria is 1 in 13.

She expressed worry that even though Nigeria holds the key to Africa's progress towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 4 & 5 by 2015, the country was still bedeviled by high infant and maternal mortality rate that the goals seek to addrerss.

If the MDGs 4 & 5 which dwells on the reduction of infant mortality rate is to be achieved by 2015, she argued that the annual reduction in infant mortality needs to be at least 10 per cent from now until 2015.

The Minister attributed immediate cause of child mortality to preventable child killer diseases such as pneumonia, measles, diarrhea, HIV/AIDs. These she said cause more than 90 per cent of these under five deaths which can be tackled through adequate interventions.

Other factors responsible for the alarming death rate as enumerated by the special guest of honour included, absence of essential healthcare system, poor nutrition , lack of maternal education, poverty, poor governance, climate change among others.

All these factors she noted have negative impact in the survival prospect and well-being of children. The Minister observed that with commitment to equity and justice on the part of our leaders, the situation can be effectively addressed.

She called for the empowerment of marginalized women and the reduction of disparity among them. Prof. Grange insisted that women should be allowed to exercise their right as this is critical to the reduction of infant and maternal mortality rate.

Chairman of AFRIBABY Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas called on mothers to adequately take care of their children especially by giving them healthy foods.

Children he said are special gift from God, hence must not be tampered with.

Chief Okoya-Thomas charged mothers to ensure that their breasts are clean before breast feeding their babies while maximum care and attention should be given to them.

In an opening remarks, the Chief Medical Director of LUTH, Prof. Akin Osigbogun represented by HOD, Paediatrrics department of the hospital, Dr. Afolabi Lesi said LUTH is committed to protecting the ideals of children.

The CMD said that an Oncology department has been established by the hospital to address cancer, diabetes and other life threatening diseases among children.

He maintained that the welfare and well-being of every child remains a major concern of the hospital.

Managing Consultant of AFRIBABY, Dr. Oscar Odiboh in his address said AFRIBABY is an exhibition of all companies whose products and services have impacts on babies.

According to Dr. Odiboh there are so many companies that have a lot of things to do with babies be it manufacturing, banks, pharmaceutical industries, so we brought all of them together to network in order to help themselves and the babies.

He said, " As far as the care and welfare of the baby is concerned, all hands must be on deck, it is a collective effort,".

The idea he maintained is to encourage those that are working for babies, care for those who care babies, work for those who work for babies and be there for those who are also there for babies.

He stated further that the exhibition is also targeting at achieving goals 4 & 5 of the MDGs before 2015.

The exhibition also provides a platform for addressing issues that affect mothers and their babies and profer solution where necessary, he said.

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