THE Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) has advised nursing mothers to adhere strictly to exclusive breastfeeding and necessary vaccination, saying this will reduce major causes of infant mortality and morbidity in the country.
The National President of the Association, Dr. Olufemi Ogunrinde, who gave this piece of advice during the 54th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the association in Akure, Ondo state capital, said adequate breastfeeding during early childhood ensures growth and development of children.
Speaking on the theme of the conference, “Optimising Child Healthcare In Nigeria Despite Current Socio-Economic Challenges”, the PAN President said breast milk is better than any other products given to a child.
According to him, breast milk contains antibodies that help babies fight off viruses and bacteria, saying breastfeeding lowers baby’s risk of having asthma or any other allergies and urged nursing mothers to ensure they observe the mandatory exclusive breastfeeding period of six months.
“We ask mothers to give exclusive breastfeeding to their children and husbands should encourage their wives and let them have vaccination and others as directed.
“Let us protect ourselves so that our children will not become orphans. I believe in the popular saying that health is wealth. There should be a demand from the people for good quality health.
“We have made ourselves available despite poor welfare and salary but it is like people are not demanding our services, maybe you say you cannot afford them, which may be true or because you have faith in the so-called alternative medicine or for other reasons.
“But I think there is a need for re-orientation of people to seek health in an appropriate place. When your child is sick, you go to an appropriate place and when you do that continuously, and you create a demand, everybody in government will see that health is wealth and they will do the needful,” he said.
The Paediatric President said that the association is ready to collaborate with all stakeholders to ensure that children survive, live quality life and achieve maximal development.
He disclosed that medical practitioners in the country are being stretched to extreme limits, noting that the country is losing its workforce to better organised global settings.
According to him, “Despite our abundant quality human and natural resources, we have, as a nation, continue to make slow progress in actualising the Sustainable Development Goals, especially as pertains to our children and youths; so that our country, Nigeria, has continued to fare poorly in virtually all indices of health.
“Yes, we have made some gains in the health sector over the past few years, but we have had the unfortunate moniker of the poverty capital of the world bestowed on us. Despite all our great potentials, we have retained virtually all of our health indices.”
“Our under-five mortality continues to be in the three- digit range at 104 per 1,000 live births. The infant mortality fares better at 70 per 1,000 live births.
“Our neonatal mortality and maternal mortality rates have refused to decline significantly over the last decade with neonatal mortality stagnating at around 35 deaths per 1,000 live births. In 2009, it was 38.
“Acute and chronic malnutrition are still major actors in the land. On top of this, we are beginning to lose workforce to apparently better organised global settings, leaving the remaining healthcare workers stretched to extreme limits. This is contrary to what is happening in other parts of the world” he said.
Speaking, Ondo State Governor, Rotimi Akeredolu, said his administration will continue to invest in the health sector despite financial challenges, saying his administration has given priority to the sector.
Akeredolu who was represented by the Commissioner for Health, Dr. Banki Ajaka, reiterated government’s commitment to provision of qualitative healthcare delivery for the overall wellbeing of the people of the state.
He added that his administration established the university of medical sciences teaching hospital complexes at Ondo and Akure for the purpose of providing a facility where medical personnel can be trained.
Wife of the Ondo state governor, Betty Anyanwu-Akeredolu who was honoured at the event commended doctors who have decided to remain in the country.
“I want to thank doctors and other health workers who have decided to stay in Nigeria despite the Japa syndrome.”