By Asma’u Ahmad
The Nigeria’s Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, on Monday remarked that the country’s mortality in children Under-Five “is still very unacceptable.”
In his remarks at the advocacy meeting on reproductive health in Abuja, organised by the office of the wife of the president, the minister stressed the urgency for the government to invest in health as it did in other infrastructure.
The minister hailed the initiatives of the Wife of the President, Mrs Aisha Buhari, on reproductive health and pledged the ministry’s support for the programme. He urged the wives of governors in the country to partner the wife of the president on the programme.
The UNICEF Country Representative, Mrs Daniele Ironside, said the UN was delighted for the initiatives of the wife of the President on issues concerning the child.
She noted that about half the rate of child and maternal mortality in Nigeria was traceable to malnutrition, noting that the trend should be corrected. According to her, over 30 million Nigerian children are stunted, representing 20 per cent in Africa and 7 percent in the world.
She observed that malnourished children had low intelligence and performed poorly in school but added that for every N1,000 invested in nutrition there was a N16,000 return.
The UN chief said that 450,000 of the estimated 2.5 million malnourished children in the country were susceptible to die if nothing was done to save them.
Her views were corroborated by another UNICEF official, Mrs Georgina Feketa, who added that the organization was implementing a marching policy for every fund released in the country to curb malnutrition since 2013.
The Executive Secretary of the National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr Faisal Shuaib, noted that 3,000 children Under-5 died every day in the country at two deaths per minute which was alarming.
He said that since 2010 the country had not really done much in the primary health care sector and urged the country to change the narrative and use every platform to change the situation.
Shuaib advised that stakeholders should ensure that every fund budgeted for health care at the states and local government levels should be promptly released and judiciously used.
Prof Hadiza Galadanci of the Bayero University, Kano, while presenting an overview of the reproductive maternal and child care in the country, stated that while much had been achieved efforts needed to be stepped up.
She said key issues in the sector were poverty, women empowerment, reduction of out-of-pocket expenses for maternal health as well as aggressive universal girl-child education. The don also harped on the training of the nation’s health resources and general improvement in the healthcare system. She called for the strengthening of advocacy in order to influence decisions within the social and political groups.
Professor Hadiza said the advocacy should focus on funding, strategies for improving girl-child education and human resources for health strengthening health system, legislation to guarantee free maternal and child health and implementation of the National Health Bill.
The Wife of the Imo governor and Chairman of the Southern Governor’s Wives forum, Mrs Nneoma Okorocha, and her Kebbi counterpart, Dr Zainab Atiku Bagudu, pledged to partner the Wife of the President in her initiative.
They noted that better reproductive healthcare was imperative while with about 10,000 wards in the country revitalization of healthcare could not be done by the federal government alone.