Saturday, 5 March 2016

Traditional, religious leaders seek govt attention on child, family health

The Bauchi State Traditional Ruler, Emir of Dass, Alhaji Usman Bilyaminu Othman has pledged that traditional and religious institutions in the State would continue to be advocacy champions for child and family health to ensure government’s commitments to achieve it. The traditional ruler said this known during a dialogue session on child and family health with the media organised by Federation of Muslim Women Association in Nigeria (FOMWAN) under the aegis of Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PACFaH) in Bauchi state, during the weekend.

He said: “The traditional, religious and community leaders will intensify advocacy efforts to ensure sustainable routine immunization, management of childhood killer diseases, apart from encouraging the communities to embrace appropriate nutrition status. Also, Islam is not against family planning and immunization. I therefore encourage parents to immunize their children to build a healthy society.”

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In a paper titled, “PACFaH: A Roadmap to Achieving Effective Child and Family Health in Nigeria”, Abdullahi Ibrahim representing FOMWAN discussed four issue areas which concerns PACFaH’s objectives— family planning, nutrition, routine immunization, and childhood killer diseases.

The presenter noted that 576 women out of every 100,000 live births die as a result of pregnancies and childbirths. This figure translates to 111 women and young girls dying daily or five women every hour,   meaning that up to 30 per cent of these are deaths can be prevented by increasing access to and uptake of contraceptives.

He lamented that budgetary provisions for FP in Nigeria is grossly inadequate to allow individuals and couples to actualise their desired number of children and the spacing and timing of their births.

Ibrahim urged the traditional and religious leaders to advocate for policy makers to provide adequate funding for family planning programmes implementation.

The presenter also urged the traditional and religious leaders to engage in intensive advocacy to ensure the implementation of the National Strategic Plan of Action on Nutrition (NSPAN) 2014-2019 at every level, with emphasis on maternal and child nutrition by government in the state.

He called for increase domestic budget for RI and timely release of funds for vaccines procurement and logistics; promote access to needed health care and establishment of vaccine intervention fund (VIF).

Ibrahim urged traditional and religious institutions to pressurise government to take concrete steps in ensuring the reduction in the death of children under the age of five through: adoption of Amoxicillin Dispersible tablet (DT) as the first line therapy (FLT) in the standard treatment guideline for childhood pneumonia and its inclusion on the Essential Medicines List (EML); adoption of Zn/ORS as First Line Therapy for the treatment of childhood diarrhea; creation of a specific budget line for Amoxicillin DT/Zn/ORS in the Ministry of Finance; and increase (funding, procurement and distribution) of the child health commodities-Amoxicillin DT & Zn/ORS co-packed.

Responding, the Chief Imam of Bauchi Central Mosque, Ustaz Bala Ahmad Babban Inna explained that Islam is not against family planning, but recommends exclusive breastfeeding for two years. He said: “The essence of family planning is to secure the health of the mother and child before going for another pregnancy. Religious Leaders will continue to support all efforts to secure lives of mother and child through enlightenment and education during sermons and other fora.”

Also, the Chairman of Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) Bauchi State Chapter, Reverend Ray Maina represented by the Association’s Youth Chairman, Reverend Mako Gwamis promised that CAN will organize similar exercise for Christian faithful on the need to embrace all policies and programmes aimed at improving child and family health.

Similarly, a representative of Jama’atu Nasril Islam (JNI), Abdulrahaman A. Ghani reiterated the Muslim Community’s commitment to family planning and other child and family health related issues. He called for concerted efforts toward proper upbringing of children to enable them attain their full potentials to become better citizens.


This story was published in Newswatch Times on March 5, 2016.

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