The President of the Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN), Professor Olufemi Ogunrinde, has underscored the critical importance of prioritising the health and rights of Nigerian children, labelling them as the nation’s most valuable assets and the key to its future. He said this during a press conference in Lagos to address critical issues affecting healthcare delivery in Nigeria. “Our children represent our nation’s most valuable assets, holding the key to our collective future. As we grapple with poor health indices, including high new-born, infant, and under-5 mortality rates, the urgency to act cannot be overstated. With the looming target of 2030 to significantly reduce child deaths, the current figures of 102 for under-5 mortality and 34 for new-born mortality demand immediate attention. It’s an uphill task, but not insurmountable.”
Addressing the pressing issue of poor health indices, including high new-born, infant, and under-5 mortality rates, Prof. Ogunrinde stressed the urgency to act promptly to halt the dangerous trend of high mortality rates in the country. With the target year 2030 approaching, the global goal is to substantially reduce under-5 mortality to 25 child deaths per 1000 live births and neonatal mortality to 12 new-born deaths per 1000 live births. The current numbers stand at 102 for under-5 mortality and 34 for new-born mortality, indicating a challenging but surmountable task ahead.
Expressing discomfort about the continued plea for the adoption and domestication of the Child’s Right Act (2003), Prof. Ogunrinde implored all states, particularly Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, and Zamfara, to adopt and domesticate the Act without delay. While acknowledging the positive response from 31 states, he urged them to implement the Act’s provisions diligently, emphasizing the protection of children’s rights in Nigeria. “We urgently appeal to all states to adopt and domesticate the Child’s Right Act (2003). While 31 states have already embraced it, we implore Adamawa, Bauchi, Gombe, Kano, and Zamfara to follow suit promptly. Implementing the Act’s provisions is crucial in safeguarding the rights of every Nigerian child. It’s disheartening that we’re still pleading about this critical matter.”
Drawing attention to the detrimental impact of brain drain on the healthcare system, Prof. Ogunrinde called on national leaders to urgently devise pragmatic solutions. He emphasized the need for a conducive national environment that fosters growth, development, and productivity, asserting that viable solutions exist and require political will for decisive action. Highlighting the alarming issue of 6.2 million unvaccinated children in Nigeria, leading to outbreaks like diphtheria, Prof. Ogunrinde emphasised the imperative of reaching every child in the country with vaccination and healthcare services. He called for concerted efforts to catch up with vaccination programs, raise awareness about the benefits of vaccination, and combat misinformation hindering children from receiving essential vaccines. The PAN President urged the collective involvement of traditional and religious leaders, community mobiliers, social influencers, and security personnel in this crucial initiative. “We have an alarming 6.2 million unvaccinated children in Nigeria, contributing to outbreaks like diphtheria. Comprehensive vaccination programs, awareness campaigns, and countering misinformation are imperative. Engaging traditional and religious leaders, community mobilizers, influencers, and security personnel is essential. PAN is committed to encouraging our colleagues to promote the health of every Nigerian child.”