John Shiklam in Kaduna
The Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) has called on governments at all levels to make access to medical service and treatment free for pregnant women and children under five.
The association also urged the federal government to allocate five per cent of the total budget to the health sector as prescribed by the World Health Organisation ( WHO).
Fielding questions from journalists at a press conference flagging off its 48th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference in Kaduna, the National President of the association, Dr. Ngozi Ibeziako, lamented the high rate of child motility in Nigeria, saying that globally, the country is rated second after India in child mortality.
She said the two-day conference was aimed at focusing attention on the health of women and children with a view to finding solutions to the high rate of death among children.
She noted that many children in Nigeria don’t live to celebrate their first birthday and even those who live to celebrate their first birthday, many of them don’t live to celebrate their fifth birthday” a situation which, according to her is caused by lack of basic facilities and drugs in most of the primary health care centres.
Also responding to some of the questions, the President -elect of the association, a Prof. Augustine Omoigberale, urged the federal government to allocate more resources to the health sector.
“We have been advocating this year in year out. When you look at our budget, it does not meet the requirement of the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The requirement is that a minimum of five per cent of the total budget should b e allocated to the health sector.
“In fact, in some developed countries they are rising it to 15 per cent. No government in this country has ever rise budget allocation to the health sector to more than 3 per cent.
“They government has the capacity to do it, it is the will power to do it that is lacking, but we believe this current government can do it,” he said.
Omoigberale maintained that in spite of the current economic recession, government can afford to render free medical services to women and children under five years.
“Despite the recession that we are in, government can do it because out of the leakages that go on at various levels of government, if those leakages are blocked, the money recovered from the leakages can provide those services.
“Once government does that the mortality and morbidity of women and children will drastically reduced,” he said.