By Chioma Obinna
THE rising profile of infant, child and maternal deaths in Nigeria has remained worrisome especially as the country ranks fourth in the world amongst countries with high infant and maternal mortality rates.
Medical experts continue to worry that Nigerian children have no reason to die in their scores as the nation has all it takes to check the trend, unfortunately, lack of proper coordination of workable plans on the big problem bedeviling the countryâ€™s health system makes the dream unachievable.
The debate on ensuring that Nigerian mothers and children stop dying topped the agenda of the meeting ofÂ management of the Otunba Tunwase National Paediatric Centre (OTNPC) last week. In attenance were former Minister of Health and Provost of the Centre, Prof. Adenike Grange as well as the Ogun State Council of Obas at the palace of His Royal Highness, the Awujale Ijebu-land Oba Sikiru Adetona.
Addressing the Council, Grange who noted the need for a functional heath care plan that would ensure proper coordination of health care resources in the country queried that with the countryâ€™s available resources to carry out the best practices in health care it has no business being among the countries with high infant mortality rates.
She traced the problem of ineffective referral system in the countryâ€™s health sector on lack ofÂ coordination.Â â€œWhat is lacking in the country and responsible for the sorry state of maternal and child health in the country is the capacity to co-ordinate the various human and material resources the country is endowed with. We need to make sure that we are following a plan that will help us to have enough in the near future. That will ensure that all mothers and children can access the best services in futureâ€
The former minster who disclosed that they centre has come to give the members of the Council and the entire community a message of hope, she promised that OTNPC was established to give best services for mothers and children in the community and the country at large.
Soliciting support of the traditional rulers, she averred that the Centre would not achieve its objectives without their unflinching supports. â€œWe need your own input for us to achieve our objectives. The state government has done much for us but your support also matters to us.
â€œThe paediatric services are given by all hospitals but we are focusing on children because they need special care particular the children may not survive unless they have the best of care. This is because the plight of the newborn is actually determined by what has been happening in the womb of the mother and also what has happened at delivery. We are looking at the whole spectrum of care for children starting with pregnant women, delivery, and post natal, so that we can save more children.
â€œRight now infant mortality is highest in the first month of life. It has several components. It has the first month of life and first years of life and then you have the under five. Many of the causes are preventable but so far our resources have been utilized to prevent through immunization, health, education, in some areas like malaria, but we also need to prevent mortality in the new born.â€
Advising mothers to patronise ante natal services, she explained that regular ante natal attendance would reduce maternal and infant mortality rates.
â€œIf they women are delivered without trained birth attendants the chances of a mother and baby surviving are very much reducedâ€
In a chatÂ after the meeting, Chairman of Board of Trustees OTNPC, Dr. Sunny Kuku,Â called for proper funding of the health sector called for citing of health institutions in allÂ the local government areas across the nation saying high infant and maternal mortality rates in the country are as a result of the non-accessibility of most health care centres in Nigeria because sometimes health facilities are too far.
Kuku lamented that the country was experiencing â€œinfant and maternal mortality rates due to lack of antenatal care for pregnant women and lack of vaccination for most infantsâ€ in the country.
Also soliciting forÂ the support of the private sector to resuscitate the healthcare system in the country, advised that private sectors be encouraged by giving them soft loans.
He recalled that OTNPC was built at the cost of over N4 billion to treat difficult cases that could lead to infant and maternal mortalities like hypertension in pregnancy, diabetes and heart failures in pregnancyâ€ and congenital diseases in children. Kuku also explained that the centreÂ would also serve as vaccination centres for children in the country, and research centres for experts.