Stakeholders in the health sector have called on the Federal Government to invest more in the health sector to address various health challenges in Nigeria.
The call was made at the event to commemorate the World Pneumonia Day and World Prematurity Day organised by ‘Save the Children’.
Dr. Isa Adamu, Save the Children’s Chief of Party, stressed the need for adequate healthcare financing toward achieving Universal Health Coverage (UHC).
“Pneumonia has direct relationship with immunisation and the environment. Government at all levels must find ways to address these challenges. We should work toward ensuring that our community hospitals provide health services to the people in the rural areas. We should ensure that people have the best healthcare at all times,” he said.
While speaking on nutrition, Adamu called on the government to implement policies aimed at sensitising the people and giving them the right information about nutrition.
“Women must be sensitised on the kind of food to eat when pregnant and how they can feed their children. We must sensitise them on exclusive breast feeding and the kinds of food that is necessary for them,” he added.
Also speaking, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Chief of Health and HIV, Dr Sanjana Bhardwaj, disclosed that Nigeria contributes to the highest number of global pneumonia child deaths.
Bhardwaj said that Nigerian children recorded an estimated 162,000 deaths in 2018, which translated to 443 deaths per day, or every 18 hour.
“In Nigeria, 19 per cent of child deaths were due to pneumonia in 2018, and it was the biggest killer of children under-five in 2017,” she said.
She said that pneumonia claimed the lives of more than 800,000 children under the age of five globally in 2018, with one child every 39 seconds, according to a new analysis.
For his part, representative of the 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 needs to develop policies that takes care of our growing population. We need to redirect our efforts and priorities toward developing the healthcare centres to provide care to people at the grassroots,” Fidelis said.