Academic;Health: Killer Diseases Among Children in Nigeria and the Role of the Government.
The objective of this write-up is to examine the roles government is playing in ensuring that children between the ages 0-5 are protected from killer diseases.
One of the many responsibilities of government at all levels in Nigeria is the provision of adequate, free and compulsorily health care to its citizens. In terms of adequate skill manpower, facilities and the required drugs.
The Nigerian government in this regard decided to established a federal ministry of health at the national level to be headed by a minister, while at the state level a ministry of health is also established and headed by an officer called a commissioner and at the local government level an officer known and address as a supervisor also take charge of all the health institutions and other related issues at that level of government.
They are segmented in such a way that, health facilities get to every parts of the country. The three tiers of government also work in synergy when confronted with a very difficult health issue, as was demonstrated during the Ebola period.
It is also important to note that so many health institutions and facilities has been built, where the needed manpower are been trained, and the one certified fit are manning all over the country. The government has done a lot and has continue to improve on it health care delivery system to all citizenry. And every year government at all levels budget billion of naira for health care.
Government roles in tackling children killer diseases.
Government felt she was failing in its responsibilities of providing adequate and compulsory health care to children between the ages of 0-5 years, with the way children within these age bracket were being killed by various killer diseases. These killer diseases included the following:-
- Pertusis (whooping cough)
- Yellow fever
- Cerebrospinal meningitis
- Hepatitis etc
As a result of this the federal government decided to take the bull by the horn, by coming up with a deliberate programme aimed at reducing or completely eradicating these killer diseases due to the rate at which children were been killed was alarming.
This deliberate programme was the National programme on immunization; this programme came into being in 1997 when the expanded programme on immunization was established with the sole aim of providing immunization service, vaccines and other therapy for children between the ages of 0-5 years. This body was also made to regulate the NPI and also ensure that every eligible child is capture and thus, effectively control killer diseases among children.
In other to realize these huge mandate, there was need to partner with some notable international and national agencies, these agencies included the following;
- World health organization – WHO
- United nation international children emergency fund – UNICEF
- International Red Cross Society (IRCS)
- Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC)
- The society for family Health (SFH)
These bodies are working in synergy with government in ensuring that these eligible children are provided with immunization and the oral rehydration therapy and also ensure that all children take the require dosage, because when that is done, such child is protected against these killer diseases.
Immunization is the most powerful means of preventing all the killer diseases of children, as well as being one of the components of primary health care.
It is very regrettable that, in spite of the effort of government and the collaborative effort of these international and local agencies, these killer diseases still persist.
Why has all these efforts not yielding the required results?
In spite of the huge investments both in human and materials in this area by government and the supports given by the local and international agencies, there are so many factors militating against the success of this programme. These factors according to Dibia (2002) include the following;
- Lack of proper information feedback
- Financial constraint
- Cultural/supernatural belief
- Negative attitude of health workers.
- Broken homes
- Lack of proper information (feedback)
this is due to the fact that most health worker is not giving proper information as regard their experiences in the field, to the appropriate authority, for example, the level of coverage, i.e Areas covered, areas yet uncovered, and how effective the vaccines are as well as feedbacks from parents most especially mothers, community elders and leaders. Information gathered from these sources will help the health authorities to plan properly.
The level of illiteracy in the rural areas is alarming; this has made it very difficult for parents to bring out their children for immunization or to be vaccinated. Ignorant and illiteracy is key in this area. This has also thrown a very big challenge to the authority to also wakeup and dwelt with this challenge. Because health workers may be spending quality time trying to educate parents, before some of them will allowed the health worker administered the vaccines on their child.
- Negative attitude of health workers
The negative and unserious attitude of some health workers towards work is another key factor here. Some health workers deliberately absent themselves from work, and when they decide to work, they refused to give out their very best or bluntly refused to adhere to laid down instructions, as regards how the vaccines should be administered and stored, and how the areas should be covered.
- d) Cultural/Supernatural Belief
Some parents here has deep rooted belief in culture and supernatural, that they have nothing to do with health workers or what they called Whiteman’s medicine. Parents here prefer to offer sacrifices to their gods than allowing health workers administered vaccines on their children, because they don’t believe in it. In some tragic cases health workers has lost their precious life, in trying to educate them.
- e) Financial constraint:- The poverty rate in most rural community is on the high side, and availability of health facilities close to their various domain is none existence. Parents here required some mean of transport to access health facility, and where these parents cannot afford the transportation fares, one can imagine what will be the faith of the child.
- f) Broken Homes:- When there is crises in a family, which some time resulted in divorced it is the children which happened to be the product of the union that suffered, these children are been denied the basic necessity of life, which include access to education and health care, it is even worst when the child is still very young.
However, government needed to work or focus on this area if this programme must be successful and these killer diseases drastically reduced or completely eradicated.
It is strongly recommend that,
- Government at all levels must bring on board all stakeholders, ie the community leaders/elders. And also provide for the health workers the needed skills and equipment to enable them put in their best.
- Government should also embarked on a rigorous enlightment campaign most especially in the rural area where illiteracy level is still very high, and also to clear doubt among those still in doubt about the programme, and as well as those who are still ignorant about the potency of immunization.
- Government need to invest more in information for effective coverage and mass participation. Information is key.
In conclusion, the government is called upon to invest in research and development and ensure that, at the end of every immunization exercise feedback should be demanded from all the health workers involved.
The non-challant attitude of health workers should no longer be condoned, e.g. absenteeism, lateness and truancy etc.
They should be made to work according to the ethics of the health profession. And finally discipline should be upheld. And authority should continue to work in synergy with all its local and international partners.