ENUGU – Participants at a workshop on healthy start campaign have challenged stakeholders in healthcare delivery and child upbringing to enthrone a sustainable water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) programme to reduce infant mortality.
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The participants, who made their views known on Tuesday in Enugu, noted that for WASH programmes to be sustainable, healthcare providers, school authorities, traditional ruler, religious leaders, women groups and the media should join efforts to reduce the high mortality and morbidity rate.
Declaring the workshop open, the Enugu Programme Support Manager, Water Aid Nigeria, Mr Jude Emesim said that the four years programme was aimed at reducing the 80 per cent of infant mortality among children (0-5 years) due to poor sanitation.
“To ensure effective linkage between sanitation, water and maternal health, the media and other stakeholders should play their roles in mitigating the gaps between health and WASH. We cannot afford to lose 150 million children in Nigeria annually,’’ he said.
In her `Healthy Start Campaign’ presentation, the Coordinator, Community Health Initiative (CHI) Nigeria, Mrs Janet Ngene said that the global advocacy priority thrust focused on mainstreaming WASH in child healthcare delivery.
She noted that the programme would be implemented in three phases of targeting newborn, nutrition and child health.
“The goal for `Healthy Start Campaign’ is that policymakers will ensure that survival rate and healthy outcomes are improved for children by integrating water, sanitation and hygiene in their activities.
“That the health sector joins with water and sanitation sector in delivering WASH for all by 2030 as an essential requirement for increasing the number of children who have healthy childhood.
“It is established that where clean water, sanitation and good hygiene are lacking, improvement in health and nutrition are slow to start and sustained,’’ she said.
She said that 90 per cent of diarrhoea cases were caused by lack of water, sanitation and good hygiene, while 29 per cent of hospitals and clinics do not have access to clean water, safe toilet as well as water to wash hands with soap.
Ngene explained that since water was a pre-requisite to the attainment of a healthy start in life, government at all levels should embed WASH in all its programmes to reduce under-malnutrition nutrition, prevent childhood diseases and newborn deaths.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the Healthy Start is Water Aid’s four year advocacy priority (2015-2019), focused on improving the health and nutrition of newborn babies as well as children. (NAN)