The Pediatric Association of Nigeria(PAN) has identified inadequate investment in the health sector as a major factor contributing to the high child mortality rate in the country.
The body stated this on Tuesday at the boardroom of the University College Hospital (UCH) during a news conference to announce its annual scientific conference and annual general meeting which coincides with the golden jubilee of the association.
The theme of the conference is “PAN at 50: successes, challenges, prospects ,child care advocacy in Nigeria, translating policy into practice”
PAN president, Dr Augustine Omoigberale said the vision of the association is that every child is born with equitable and optimal chance to survive, grow and develop. He said the association’s role is to influence all policies and programmes of government that impact on the well being of every child through advocacy and strategic interventions.
While speaking, Dr Edward Alikor, the vice president and president-elect of the association, described pediatricians as the advocates of children because children can not speak for themselves.
“It is our responsibility to advocate for the right of the children. No child should be denied access to quality health care either at the federal, state or at the local government level,” he said.
He said both the government and private sector to invest more in the health sector so as to improve the health indices of the country which will contribute significantly to the socio- economic progress of the country.
“Health is linked to life and death of a people, better health is central to human happiness and their well being.
“Many countries that have improved on their health indices, do with the help of private sector. Government should encourage private sector investment into the health system to increase our deliverable,” he said
Dr Ngozi Ibeziaka, the immediate past president of the association said childhood deaths were due to preventable causes including malaria, malnutrition, birth asphyxia, poor environmental health, infections and neonatal jaundice.
Ibeziaka said that the the current 147 deaths per a thousand live births, many children do not survive beyond their fifth birthday.
“This figure is abysmal, the major cause of these deaths can however be address with appropriate interventions.
“Such interventions which include a multi-sectoral approach would need to ensure there is increased level of awareness and sensitisation among parents on best practices to increase chance of child’s survival.
“Also, to ensure that our children survive and live to attain their life potentials, there is a need to have skilled attendants for antenatal, birth, and postnatal care,” she said.
The conference is expected to attract speakers from both within and outside the country.