BY CHIOMA OBINNA
Minister of Health, Prof Onyebuchi Chukwu has been taken to task to ensure the actualisation of the recent statement credited to him that the health ministry is working with state governments to ensure every child in Nigeria under the age of five receives free healthcare services.
The admonition is coming on the heels of an Africa International baby exhibition (Afribaby) coming up in Nigeria in March in line with the strategies to check increasing infant mortality as enshrined in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
Fears have been expressed that Nigeria may not meet the MDG targets even as recent UN reports the nation has only achieved 32 per cent reduction less than five years to 2015.
Making the call in Lagos, Sir Chief Molade Okoya- Thomas, Chairman, Afribaby, said there is need to enable parents get informed about baby care strategies.
“Developed countries are working hard to ensure babies live to adulthood and I want to believe that we can do better in Africa. We must put a stop to infant mortality now. This is the right thing to do. I want to believe that Federal government will ensure it fulfils its promise this time regarding the MDGs.”
Appealing for support , he said: “Challenges of saving the lives of our innocent babies from dying at birth calls for a new approach that is synergistic, which is to be offered at the exhibition.”
Director, Enhancer Exhibition Services, Dr.Oscar Odiboh said the exhibition would bring several companies to promote baby care in Lagos, Port Harcourt, Abuja, Ghana, Kenya, Egypt and South Africa.
“The Afribaby concept is a new approach and first of its kind to address problems of child care in Nigeria and Africa at large. There is need for policy change”.
According to him, “The exhibition will provide a platform for generating and disseminating the latest information through interactive discourses on the survival of new births, maternal joy, protection of lives and provision for the growth of babies in Africa.
It would raise awareness on adoption and misconception of the motherless babies homes and other issues such as stealing, selling, swapping and trafficking of babies in hospitals.
Reeling out programmes line up for the baby exhibition, he explained that the Baby competition tagged “Where is Daddy? would further promote exclusive breast feeding. ”Because we want our dadies to participate in the competition, if you are bringing your baby for the competition, his/her daddy will also come along for the competition. Once the competition starts, the first thing you have to do is to breastfeed the baby.
There will be a time limit of two to three minutes. After that, you will change the baby’s dress. Thereafter, you tell the baby to go to his/her daddy. The baby will now go to daddy and you will now see the drama and fun. Some babies will find daddy that is always around. If the baby does not know his/her daddy and he comes to that competition, the baby will not go to that daddy.
On the contrary, if a daddy is always available and the baby knows him, he/she will not go to another father. The drama that will play out is that some babies will go to a different father. This is the fun aspect of it”.