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Protecting children from preventable diseases

By Maria Famakinwa
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The Advocacy and Accountability Advisor of the Maternal and New Child Health (MNCH) Dr Ashiru Hamza recently disclosed that about 700 Nigerian children die daily as a result of different preventable health challenges.

He made this known in Kaduna at a meeting organised to sensitize parents through the media, the need to prevent avoidable death among children. According to him, the country accounted for 10 per cent of annual maternal death globally based on a survey conducted in Nigeria in 2016. He said, “The under five mortality in the northern part of the country is also much higher than the national rate which is 265 and 120 respectively.” He noted that women and children under age five suffer treatable complications in pregnancy and child birth such as injury, infection and disability.

The 2017 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) also revealed that over 75 per cent of Nigerian’s children age 0-59 were not fully immunized which means that only one in four children in the country receive all the recommended vaccines despite the fact that vaccine preventable diseases account for 40 per cent of all childhood deaths in Nigeria. The World Health Organisation (WHO), UNICEF and Global Vaccine Alliance believed that immunisation is one the world most successful and cost-effective health intervention.

  Some of the nurses who spoke with The Hope on ways of protecting children from preventable diseases emphasised the need for complete immunisation, giving children balanced diet, increasing children’s access to safe water and sanitation, avoid self medication among others. A nurse, Mrs Yemisi Falade revealed that despite much efforts made by the three tiers of government to sensitize parents on the importance of immunising their children against killer diseases has not been yielding desire results.

Her words, “Some parents and caregivers up till now do not believe that it is important to bring their children for immunisation. While some that believe in it do not complete all the immunisation for their children. As parents, our ultimate goal is to protect our children and give them the best which cannot be achieved without sound health. Getting children vaccinated is the best thing parents can do to protect their children from vaccine -preventable diseases.

 “That is why it is important to follow the recommended immunisation schedule to protect infants and children by providing immunity early in life before they are exposed to potentially life -threatening diseases like whooping cough, measles, polio, rotavirus, chickenpox among others. Aside immunisation, giving a child good health start from when he /she is in the womb which is the more reason we often advice expectant mothers to always come to the hospital for proper follow – up. There are some pregnant women who prefers to go to traditional herbal home only to be rushed to the hospital when there are complications. This also affect the well -being of the mother and child if they survive eventually.”

 Sharing similar sentiment, another nurse, Mrs Wumi Akingbade said that to protect children from avoidable diseases, they should be fed with balance diet which she described as food that contains all the nutritional value a child needs to grow healthy. “How children eats can have a huge impact on their health throughout adolescent and adulthood.

 “Eating food containing important nutrients helps children grow and is also essential for children’s mental and physical development. As a nurse attending to different cases mostly related to mother and child, revealed to me that most parents do not take the issue of their children’s health seriously as most of them instead of bringing their children to the hospital when they are sick prefer to ask their neighbours and friends who are not in medical line the type of drugs they can use for their children when they are sick. Some of them will even go and buy herbs to give them. Many have blamed themselves for this. Most parents prefer to buy “aso  ebi” to spending money on foods that can give their children good health.”

 On her advice to nursing parents said that they should give their children balance diet which includes fruits, vegetables, fish and bring them to the hospital when they are sick instead of asking anyone who is not a medical doctor the drug they can give their children to avoid complicating their children’s health.

“A woman brought her child who has been sick for a week to the hospital, the test carried out on the child revealed that he had been given some herbal concoction that made him to be very weak only for the mother to say that a neighbour gave her the herbal concoction to give her child. It was God who revived the innocent child. Many children have been lost through this ignorance act of most parents. That is why it is advisable to bring a sick child to the hospital for proper treatment.”

In his submission, a pharmacist, Mr Eniola Daodu who stressed the need for hygine environment in ensuring preventable diseases urged parents and caregivers to make neatness their watchwords and added that healthy environment can only be achieved when there is access to safe water and sanitation. “In homes where there are no toilets and good water, how can children in such environment be protected from preventable diseases?

 “This is the major reason for frequent cholera outbreak in some parts of the country. To protect children from preventable diseases, I will suggest that all building should have toilets and potable water and anyone without toilet and water should be closed down by the government. Not only the children need protection against preventable diseases the adults too should protect themselves against such because outbreak of any disease can kill if left unattended to.”

Daodu, further appealed to the authority concerns to use the mass media to educate the general public on what to do to protec the masses from avoidable health challenges as he added that when one is down healthwisely, nothing can be achieved in such situation.

“Most Nigerians have forgotten the simple health habit of hand washing since the issue of Ebola is gone. Even some public places that we have hand washing bowls during the Ebola outbreak in the country were no longer there. Hand washing should be a continuous practice for a good health. This is part of what the pubic should be educated on.”

Owena Press Limited (Publisher of The Hope Newspaper), Akure

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