Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) - Enugu State acting governor, Mr. Sunday Onyebuchi, has challenged health professionals in the country, especially paediatricians to intensify efforts to reduce the infant and under - five mortality rates in order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Declaring open the 44th Annual General and Scientific Conference of the Paediatric Association of Nigeria in Enugu recently, the governor, who was represented by the state Commissioner for Health, Dr. Fidelia Ugwu, lamented that a situation where UNICEF reported recently that Nigeria loses 2,300 under - five children and 145 women of childbearing age daily was no longer acceptable. The theme of the conference is "the challenges of improving child health indices in Nigeria".
In a press statement sent to THISDAY, the governor stated that with this shocking statistics, Nigeria is ranked second largest contributor to the under - five and maternal mortality rate in the world, adding that the death of new-born babies in Nigeria represents a quarter of the total number of deaths of under - five children globally.
He disclosed that as part of efforts to reduce child and maternal death, Enugu state government had introduced free maternal and child health scheme, including the distribution of long lasting insecticide treated mosquito nets to all households in the state, de - worming of children twice every year and intensified childhood immunisation coverage (80 percent coverage).
The president of Paediatric Association of Nigeria, Dr. Dorothy Esangbedo, announced that the association with the support of Latter Day Charities of USA, has trained more than 400 medical doctors and nurses in the past one year as part its commitment to boost health care in the country.
She called on the Federal Government to include rotavirus vaccine in the national childhood immunisation schedule, as rotavirus infection is the leading cause of diarrhoea in infants.
She showered praises on the chairman of local organising committee, Prof. Bede Ibe, for organising what she described as the best since the new millennium.
The chairman of the local organising committee and former deputy vice chancellor, University of Nigeria, Enugu - Campus, Prof. Bede Ibe, blamed government for the poor state of health facilities in the country, stressing that despite the availability of manpower, government had failed to equip hospitals and health centres to improve health care delivery.
Ibe, called on the national assembly to enact a law making it a punishable offence for any government official to seek medical treatment abroad on public funds, saying "I believe such a measure will compel those in leadership to fix the hospitals in the country and raise their standard to be at par with those overseas".
Earlier, in a thrilling lecture, the director of the Catholic Institute for Development Justice and Peace, CIDJAP,Enugu Diocese, Prof. Obiora Ike, lashed at Nigerian medical doctors who allow some patients to die while insisting on payment of deposit before attending to them and regretted that it was only in Nigeria that people with gun shot injuries were refused treatment until a police report was presented, even when their health condition was threatening.
According to him, it was shocking that in Nigeria, many children die because of lack of water, hunger, lack of common drugs, no schools to attend, while many of them live in streets as a result of poverty, I therefore on this occasion, renew my appeal to the government and the wealthy in the society to bring succour to all those in need so that our society can be better, so that Nigeria can hope for a better future", he wept.
The conference attracted more than 1,000 participants from within and outside the country, including Anambra state governor, Peter Obi, who was represented by secretary to the state government, Oseloka Obaze.
By Abidemi Omoyiola