By Tobias Lengnan Dapam
Stakeholders in the health sector yesterday called on government at all levels to invest in the health sector to address various health challenges in the country.
The stakeholders made the call yesterday during the commemoration of the World Pneumonia Day and World Prematurity Day organized by Save the Children.
Specifically, Save the Children’s Chief of Party, Dr. Isa Adamu, said health care financing is necessary in achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
“Pneumonia has direct relationship with immunization and the environment. Government at all levels must find way of reaching out to address these challenges. We should work towards ensuring that our small communities hospitals are providing health services to the people in the rural areas. We should ensure that people have the best care they need at all times.”
While speaking on nutrition, the Chief of Party called on government to implement policies that are aimed at sensitizing the people and giving them the right information about nutrition.
“Women must be sensitized on the kind of food to eat when pregnant and how they can feed their children. We must sensitize them on exclusive breast feeding and the kinds of food that is necessary for them.
Also speaking, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Chief of Health and HIV, Dr. Sanjana Bhardwaj, said Nigeria contribute to the highest number of global pneumonia child deaths.
She addd that Nigerian children made up the highest number of those who died, with an estimated 162,000 deaths in 2018 – 443 deaths per day, or 18 every hour.
“In Nigeria, 19% of child deaths were due to pneumonia in 2018, and it was the biggest killer of children under-five in 2017.”
Bhardwaj said pneumonia claimed the lives of more than 800,000 children under the age of five last year globally, with one child every 39 seconds, according to a new analysis.
On his part, President of the Peadiatric Association of Nigeria, Dr. Eki-Udoko Fidelis, expressed worry over Nigeria’s growing population.
“We need to plan for our population. You cannot develop when you don’t plan for your population. Government need to develop policies that takes care of our growing population.”
Fidelis also expressed worry with out of pocket payment at the hospitals.
“In develop nations like United Kingdom, government pays part of the bill for its people. So long as we maintain this system of payment, people will keep dying. We need to redirect our efforts and priorities towards developing the healthcare centers to provide care to people at the grass roots.”