A Pediatrician, Dr Okiemute Olibamoyo, on Saturday in Lagos decried poor parental attitudes, beliefs, behaviors and concerns toward their children’s immunisation.
She told the News Agency of Nigeria that vaccine hesitancy by parents had been a major characteristic responsible for childhood deaths in the country.
Olibamoyo, of the Department of Paediatrics, College of Medicine, Lagos University Teaching Hospital, Idi-Araba, urged parents to see immunisation as one of the safest aspects in disease prevention in children.
She said: “One major aspect in disease prevention in children that may go a long way in stemming childhood deaths has to do with immunisation.
“I want to plead with Mothers in Lagos, wherever you are located, that there is always a Primary Health Centre; take your children to the one nearest to you and get them vaccinated.
“It will cost you nothing to do so; regardless of whatever beliefs you have, know that immunisation is safest for you and your children.
“Do not stay back for any reason, let the nurse or the health worker be the one to turn you back and ensure that he or she gives you a date to come back for that immunisation,’’ Olibamoyo stressed.”
The paediatrician recalled how a mother recently lost her child of one year and four months because of her refusal to take the child for immunisation.
“We lost a child of one year and four months recently. The child had the body size, the head and weight of a two-months old baby because he had never been immunised all his life.
“Due to the mother’s disregard for vaccination, the child could not develop any immunity and the child died.”
Olibamoyo, therefore, called on stakeholders to regularly educate the public on the importance of immunization, especially the newly-wedded, new mothers and the not-so-literate.
The medical expert also observed that some churches did not believe in immunization, urging all clerics to preach the significance of immunisation to their followers.
She said also that exclusive breastfeeding from day one of life, without adding water, would protect a child from all diseases.
She said: “Mothers must learn to breastfeed their children from day one of life, without adding water, noting that that was a common misconception that some mothers have.
“They give their children water because they feel breast milk is solid and therefore, they need to give water.
“Breast milk is 98 per cent water and two per cent calories, which is just enough for brain development and for the survival of any child, till he gets to six months.
“At this time, the child’s growth needs are accelerated, energy needs are more, and breast milk cannot meet up with it; at this time, the mother needs to introduce complementary feeds in addition to breast milk.
“Breast milk should not stop till the child is two years, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.”