Baby in Tanzania. (Photo courtesy of MamaYe)
This blog was originally published by CARMMA
The health of every child is important, particularly that of newborns who are most vulnerable. Their health and survival remain crucial to every nation and government, especially because a huge number of children under five deaths occur during the first month of life.
An African adage says that a man’s topmost needs and challenges occupy his thoughts and discussions. Whether enough has been said or done about maternal health across the globe is still up for debate, but the fact that we are still losing newborns and mothers for avoidable reasons is the singular reason why we cannot afford to stop talking about how to put an end to this challenge.
Let’s examine some likely benefits of continuing the conversation about the health and survival of newborns in Africa:
1. The opinion that talking about issues does not change them is not entirely right, because a constantly-discussed problem stands a better chance of grabbing public attention. It is difficult to believe the fact that about 3.6 million babies lose their lives within the first four weeks of life. We need not just to keep talking about these challenges, but also to constantly search for ways to ensure that new-borns and their mothers have the right access to quality health care.
2. Because the figures of newborn deaths remain alarming, we need to keep talking about raising the standard for child’s health in Africa, especially in light of the fact that the solutions to this challenge is neither scarce or expensive. We only need to encourage our women to adopt habits of good nutrition, healthy home practices, as well as delay childbirth in adolescents whose bodies aren’t mature for pregnancy. For mature women, we can successfully talk them into spacing their children so they can reduce the stress on their bodies. We can locally form mother and baby groups to support newborns by encouraging mothers to make their babies available for timely immunization.
3. If we collectively play an active role, we can increase awareness by getting the government and relevant agencies to be more accountable. It is important to note that this cannot be achieved in isolation – as individuals we can only do so much – but with a strong voice we can push our government to increase the health care facility for mothers and newborns. That is also a way to hold government to the promises they have made concerning health care programs. By simply talking, we can compel the government to increase its political will to work towards the survival of newborns.
4. It is also crucial to note that emphasizing child health will help the African continent, as there is a strong link between mortality and economic development. We cannot afford to keep losing children with future potential and then keep pretending that all is fine! When we collectively talk and think about maternal and newborn mortality, we would realize that it would be difficult for any nation to continually lose mothers and babies in such grave quantities. They play a major role in economic development as natural care givers, and foster sustainable growth and development across the continent.
5. Finally, increasing the survival and health of mothers and newborn babies is a critical part towards achieving the millennium development goals for 2015 and beyond.
The African continent cannot accept that the issue of newborn and maternal health is “business as usual.” Good maternal health care guarantees the best possible outcome, and for that to materialize in our nations and in the African continent as a whole, we must make maternal and newborn health a priority. We must keep discussing the different ways to advance this cause. We must keep bringing this issue to the forefront.
****Lanre Olagunju is an hydrologist turned freelance journalist. He holds a degree in hydrology from the University of Agriculture Abeokuta in Nigeria, and a professional diploma in journalism from the American College of Journalism. Lanre advocates on several international platforms for the prosperity and absolute well-being of the African continent. He is @Lanre_Olagunju on Twitter.