Child survival is a field of public health concerned with reducing child mortality. Child survival interventions are designed to address the most common causes of child deaths that occur, which includes diarrhoea, pneumonia, malaria, and neonatal conditions.
Of the portion of children under the age of 5 alone, an estimated 9.2 million children die each year mostly from such preventable causes. According to an estimate by UNICEF, one million child deaths could be prevented annually at a cost of $1billion per year (an average of $1000 for each child).
Nigeria has enjoyed support from various organisations in the battle against preventable diseases, improvement of healthcare services among others. One other area of interest is the promotion of various child survival efforts and one of such is coming from the Banana Importers of Ireland Limited (Fyffes).
This gesture begins the process of meeting the urgent needs of UNICEF programme. It is indeed a positive move as Nigeria continues to make progress in her ongoing efforts in child survival and other childhood preventable diseases.
In doing this, Fyffes and Donncha O’Callaghan, UNICEF Ireland ambassador, inspected the frontlines of government efforts in Kano State. The outcome of the tour will form the basis of a new campaign for support from the Irish population schedule for between April and May 2014.
Donncha has been a UNICEF Ambassador since 2009 and has seen UNICEF’s work for children in action all over the world including in Haiti, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Jordan and now Nigeria.
On ground already in Kano are obvious efforts by the government to improve child survival and other community based health programmes and one of such is the Community-Based Management of Acute Malnutrition (CMAM) and volunteer community mobilisers.
The two-day field tour showcases key child survival interventions offered by CMAM Centres including malaria and diarrhoea prevention, nutrition, immunisation as well as acute respiratory infection (ARI) programming.
The team toured three local government areas (LGAs) of Kano State comprising Bichi, Dambatta and Nassarawa.
According to Donncha, “It is great for us to come here and see all the programmes put in place. I can’t believe how selfless people are within their communities. These people are so selfless, they think of the greater good of their communities. That is a bit that probably stood out more for me.
“I suppose seeing the centres (Community Management of Acute Malnutrition — CMAM Centre) and seeing the vaccination in place, shows just how really well organised, the level and kind of professionalism; it is educating, the way they educate mothers and the way the centres are not only for nutrition, but they can chat about other family issues and support mothers.
“We need the support of everyone in Nigeria and efforts from the wider global community and those who have passion for the survival of children all over the world to address critical needs of our vulnerable group. The time to advance child survival is here and it is only with supports like this that we can do it,” Jean Gough, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, admits.
By: Kemi Ajumobi