President, Pediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN), Olufemi Ogunrinde, has debunked the claim that the best hands in the nation’s health sector have left the country in search of greener pastures.
Speaking in Akure, the Ondo state capital, at a press conference to announce the association’s 54th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference on Wednesday, Mr. Ogunrinde said there are still many excellent doctors in the country, of whom He said that they are committed to serving humanity despite the multiple challenges facing the nation as a whole and the health sector in particular.
The theme of the conference is: “Optimizing Child Health Care in Nigeria Despite Current Socio-Economic Challenges.”
He said: “I want to say hello to the health workers who are staying to continue to offer services and I want to say that it is not the best brains that are leaving.
“We still have the best, most amazing brains who are not leaving, who are committed to staying in this country no matter what.”
The president of the association, however, lamented the infant mortality rate in the country and advocated for optimal stakeholder performance for the well-being of children in Nigeria.
Mr Ogunrinde said: “We at PAN are not so happy with Nigeria’s poor health rates, although we have made some progress in recent years compared to 1990, but we still have some children dying.
“The latest statistics show that 74 children die for every 1,000 births and neonatal deaths are almost double that number, around 100.
“So, for every 1,000 children that are born, about 100 die. That’s about 10 percent. That is a loss for any nation. When you compare it to what other people in other climates get, it’s anywhere from three to 1000.
“In addition, we still have a number of children who are malnourished. They are stunted, they are not growing well. And from experience, these children constitute a social problem.
“They hardly develop well. They can grow well with proper nutrition, but the brain has suffered damage, especially in the first to three years, when they are supposed to receive the nutrients, but were not given.”
The pediatrician added that such damage could be permanent and said that this would invariably affect the trajectory of the nation.
“Can you imagine a nation that is full of defective adults? It’s not going to work very well,” she said.
The PAN president asked mothers to strictly adhere to exclusive breastfeeding and the necessary vaccinations, adding that they should have access to good health services for their children.
“We ask mothers to exclusively breastfeed their children and husbands to encourage their wives to let them get vaccinated and so on as directed.
“Let us protect ourselves so that our children are not orphaned. I believe in the popular saying that health is wealth. There must be a demand from the people for good quality health.
“We have made ourselves available despite the poor social assistance and salary, but it is as if people do not demand our services.
“It may be that you say you can’t afford them, which may be true or because you have faith in so-called alternative medicine or for other reasons, but I think it is necessary to reorient people so that they seek health in the right place. .
“When your child is sick, you go to the right place, and when you do it continuously and create demand, everyone in government will see that health is wealth and will do what is necessary,” he said.
Mr. Ogunrinde said the association was working with everyone to ensure that the children survived, lived a quality life and achieved maximum development.
“For me, Nigeria has great potential, so when we treat our children well and they grow up, we will have a fantastic country. Everything will fall into place, but we have to start now,” she said.
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According to him, the governments of Ondo and Ekiti states should take advantage of the pool of pediatricians that are available in their states to provide quality medical care for children.
“They should be reaching out and tapping into their potentials (pediatricians) regularly and they can give advice on the way forward: our children need to survive,” he said.
He said the three-day conference in Akure will discuss sickle cell disease, pneumonia and other factors that could negatively affect children and offer solutions.
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