UNICEF’s Chief of Field Office in charge of Katsina and Kano States, Padmavathi Yedla, has explained that the solutions to high infant mortality rate in Nigeria are not expensive but they are not properly observed because social norms are opposed to them.
Yedla, who stated this at the weekend while speaking at her maiden meeting with Katsina newsmen, was disturbed by the high rate of infant mortality, particularly in the North.
She expressed that even in the North with the highest rate of infant mortality; many women do not practice exclusive breast feeding.
“The reason they give is that their mothers – in – law or their mothers say when a child is not given water, the child will not be healthy. What happens is that the water they often give to the children is not pure; it is already contaminated.”
Yedla said another major reason for high infant mortality is malnutrition, saying “if you look at the cycle of malnutrition, many children (girls) are married at the age when they are not completely ready for marriage and these girls themselves are very malnourished; they are not very healthy by the time they get married.”
According to her, a child born to a malnourished mother doesn’t have adequate resistance against ailment caused by bacteria contamination.
“So, the solutions are there but the social norms prevent us because we believe that a child needs more than breast milk. That’s not true. The child’s stomach is very small and when the child is given water, the child’s stomach is filled up but water does not contain any nutrient.”
She also said it is unfortunate that lack of access to safe water and sanitation procedures remain the major source of diarrhea; a one of the killer diseases of children who are under five years.
She was confident that the proactive role of media on immunisation and malnutrition among others would no doubt improve the health condition of the populace at the grassroots.