Biological warfare against Nigerians

By Lekan Sote


At a recent press briefing by a collective of health-oriented Non-Government Organisations, under the aegis of Partnership for Advocacy in Child and Family Health, fearful details about the status of the health care delivery system of Nigeria were revealed.


One came away from the encounter with the fear that the Nigerian state was waging an undeclared biological warfare, a war of attrition, against its people; that the right of Nigerians to life was being threatened through the wilful negligence of the Nigerian state!


Between 80 and 85 per cent of health issues in Nigeria affect women and children. Nigeria was declared 189th worst nation on some basic health indices. About 200 of every 1,000 Nigerian children die from malaria, pneumonia, and diarrhoea before their fifth birthday. Only five die in America.


Results of Goals 4, to reduce child mortality; 5, to improve maternal health; and 6, to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, of the recently rested Millennium Development Goals programme were just short of dismal for Nigeria. For example, by 2008, only 5.5 per cent of children slept under insecticide-treated mosquito net.


Though Nigeria is relatively efficient with the immunisation programme, which comes early in the life of a child, it is regrettable that donors (especially multilateral agencies), foot the bulk of the funding. The implication of inadequate funding is that about 66,000 children below age five die annually in Kaduna State alone. The Federal Government’s plan to vaccinate 41 million children against polio is laudable.


About 53 per cent of child death is due to malnutrition which also causes immune deficiency. The Nigerian Demographic Health Survey reports that about 37 per cent of Nigerian children are stunted in height, weight, and mental capacity because of malnutrition.


The feeding of children, a vulnerable group that cannot help themselves, should be a matter of priority. An underfed people will have lower mental capacity, will not achieve their full potential, will loaf about, and become a threat to national security.


The recent raids of grocery stores by hungry citizens of oil-rich Venezuela, and insurgency by Boko Haram in Nigeria, arise from the anger of the downtrodden. The ruling All Progressives Congress government must urgently implement the fulsome lunch scheme for primary school pupils nationwide. It however looks like it already kicked off in Gubio Local Government Area of Borno State.


Many poor parents can neither adequately feed themselves nor their children. Those state governors who claim that the school lunch programme is too expensive should remember that Nigerians know that food is provided free in State Houses.


Food is at the core of human survival and security. Former President Olusegun Obasanjo laments that Nigeria’s food insecurity index rose from 35 per cent of Nigerian households in February/March 2016, to 38 per cent in June/July. With the recent devaluation of the naira, it would have become even worse.


Five women die of child birth every hour in both rural and poor urban centres in Nigeria. This is because most pregnant women have little access to health facilities; are too young, especially in Northern Nigeria; do not space their pregnancies; or do not feed well. With fewer children, the food goes round, and the ravages of breastfeeding on malnourished mothers are reduced.


Family planning facilities and delivery that can reduce maternal death are inadequate. Again, the Nigerian state fails to provide counterpart funding to complement the foreign donors. And sometimes, donated family planning consumables are abandoned by callous state agents.



Release Date: 
Wednesday, October 26, 2016