Child Development: UNICEF Advocates ‎Proper Healthcare Behaviour

By ALEX UANGBAOJE, Zaria

For the Nigerian Child to grow and develop like his counterpart anywhere in the world, certain healthcare measures must be put in place. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has said.  

Some of these measures according to UNICEF includes,  full immunisation, right to basic education, right to citizen birth right, must have access to food and nutrition and access to Prevention of Mother-to-Child Transmission (PMTCT)  of HIV among others. 

Presenting a paper, Tuesday on the “situation of children in Nigeria”, during a Media Engagement Workshop on “Facts for Life” Dissemination in Zaria, Kaduna State, organised by National Orientation Agency and UNICEF,  Dr.  Idris Baba,  HIV/AIDS specialist UNICEF kaduna Field office, added that sustained handwashing in critical times is essential to overcoming any disease that stands against child development and survival. 

Such hand washing behaviour according to him are: after visiting toilets, before handling food etc. He charges parents to always ensures they construct and use sanitary latrine and equally teach their children how to use them. 

Dr.  Idris emphasised on mother’s education as a vital instrument for child’s survival.

He described the current health indices of women and children in the country as worrisome, adding that infant and under-five mortality rates in the past five years are 74 and 117 deaths per 1,000 live births respectively.

He also said that neonatal rate stands at 37 deaths per 1,000 live births, adding that the situation has not change in the past 20 years.

“At these mortality rate, one in every 13 Nigerian children die before reaching age one, and one in very eight do not survive to the fifth birthday.

“Similarly, an estimated, 3, 400, 000 are living with HIV in the country in 2014, out of which 1,700,000 are women age 15 and above and 380,000 children age 0 to 14.

Dr. Baba pointed out that the disturbing health indices of women and children are higher in rural areas, particularly in the northern part of the country.

“A child from the 20 per cent poorest house hold is two times more likely to die before his first birthday or before his fifth birthday than a child from the riches household.

The HIV/AIDS Specialist further states that 70 per cent of children deaths are preventable; mostly caused by diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, HIV/AIDS, measles and malnutrition alone responsible for 50 per cent of the deaths.

According to him, building a strong partnership with all relevant stakeholders, particularly the media could revert the trend.

On his part, Mr Utpal Moitra, Chief of Field Office, UNICEF Kaduna stressed the need for partnership among the media, federal and states government and other stakeholders to reach out to thousands of women and children in need of help.

He called on media practitioners to look at the opportunities that abound and contribute their quota in saving the life of women and children from preventable deaths.

“Get the message out on the need to wash hands after going to the toilet; the need to immunise all children; the need for antenatal care, HIV screening; these actions could save thousands of lives.‎”‎

“Fact for Life” is a document developed as a vital resource that deliverers essential information on how to prevent disease, injuries, violence and death of mothers and children.

It also provides information to help, save improve and protect the life of children.

About 40 media executives across the three states of Nasarawa, Niger and Kaduna are participating in the two-day Workshop.

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