*Decries Under 5 Mortality rate of 2700 deaths daily nationally
Amby Uneze in Owerri
The UNICEF Enugu zonal Chief Field Officer, Mr. Charles Nzuki has scored the seven states covered by the zone high in ensuring the promotion of health facilities for the wellbeing of children and women in their various states.
Such states, he said included Imo, Abia, Ebonyi, Anambra, Enugu, Cross River and Benue.
He, however, decried the Under 5 mortality rate of 2,700 deaths daily nationwide, insisting that a situation whereby 128 deaths per 1,000 live births are recorded portends danger for the country, even as efforts by UNICEF to ameliorate the dangers imposed towards children and women are intensified.
Nkuzi while speaking during the two-day 2016 end of year review/2017 planning meeting for MDAs in Abakiliki, Ebonyi State, he nonetheless commended the government of the seven states in the zone for ensuring quality health care delivery for the benefit of children and women.
According to him, we have recorded a lot of changes and success stories in these states, noting that during this year, the Enugu State has passed Child Rights Bill, while in Imo there was a successful coverage of immunization of 95 percent.
He added that the Ebonyi State government actually released N1 billion towards revitalizing the health sector, which needs to be greatly acknowledged.
The UNICEF chief stated that also in Anambra, the state government had to privatize about 68 primary health centres (PHCs), including releasing funds to support them for optimal use, while in Abia state, the state government established the primary health agencies through passing of the regulatory requirement law for its proper function.
He stated that in Cross River and Benue States, the governments in those two states have done so well in ensuring that they created enabling environment for their PHCs to function as well as putting in enough funds to promote health care in the states.
“We see a lot of pillars that are functional and there are capacities to revitalizing the PHCs in the states which are generally geared towards improving the health of children and women”, he said.
Highlighting sectoral situation of children and women in Nigeria, the UNICEF Chief proposed an explosion of 250 million population of Nigeria by 2030 from her present target of 180 million putting Nigeria growth rate to 7.5 million births annually.
Nzuki observed also that maternal mortality of 576 deaths per 100,000 live births, describing it as among the highest in the world amounted close to 44,000 deaths annually.
According to him, access and utilization of services remains extremely low as 3 million children remain unimmunized each year while 4.7 million of these children are not delivered by a skilled attendants, expressing insufficient progress towards MDG and Nigeria did not meet the Health related MDGs.
He also maintained that Nigeria, being the country with the second highest HIV burden globally of 196,000 adolescents living with HIVand 300,000 children currently living with HIV while Nigeria contributes the highest number of new infections in children globally, describing the trend as unacceptable.