The Lagos State Government on Thursday said finance would no longer be a barrier to children in getting proper healthcare servises in the state.

The State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, gave the assurance at the 6th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference organised by Nigerian Society of Paediatric Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Nutrition (NISPGHAN) in Lagos.

The theme of the three days conference is entitled: “The Role of Specialised Paediatric Gastroenterological Care in Improving Child Health.”

Idris said: “We recognise that children remain the most vulnerable groups in the country with an unacceptable number of infant morbidity and mortality, majority of which is due to malnutrition and diarrhea diseases.

“The government of Lagos State has carried out a number of programmes to reduce morbidly and mortality in the state; one of them is financial protection.

“By this, we have blocked the financial barriers to the healthcare of children in the state.

“We have free health services for children between the ages of zero to 12 years and this is being continued by the commencement of the Lagos State Health Insurance Scheme,’’ Idris, represented by Dr Abieyuwa Emokpae, said.

According to him, the major plan on the maternal and child health programme in the state is the nutritional programme.

The commissioner said that with this, the state government encourages exclusive breastfeeding for civil servants.

He said also that maternity leave for civil servants had been extended from three months to six months to allow nursing mothers to properly and exclusively breastfeed their babies.

Idris expressed hope that the conference would throw more light on these nutritional diseases to the health of children.

The Vice-Chancellor, Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos, Prof. Olanrewaju Fagbohun, represented by Prof.Tokunbo Fabanwo, said that theme of the conference was beneficial to nursing mothers.

Fagbohun, however, expressed dissatisfaction that the society (NISPGHAN), separated itself from the Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN).

He said: “I congratulate the organisation at six years for being formidable but, I think that you should still remain a strong force within the Paediatric Association of Nigeria.

“I do not think you should carve out your own empire outside of PAN,’’ Fagbohun said.

In his presentation, the Professor of Paediatric Clinical Nutrition, BABCOCK University, Prof. James Rener, urged the society to ensure it educated nursing mothers on the benefit of exclusive breastfeeding.

He said: “If we must make an impact, we must make a contribution about nutrition to the people.

“Kwarshiorkor is still with us; we must create awareness on breastfeeding, just like it is done on polio.

“Mothers must know that breast milk is the feed suitable for babies in the first 1,000 days of their live,’’ the expert said.

He urged government to provide an enabling environment for nursing mothers to breast feed their babies.

Also, Prof. Philip Abiodun, President of NISPGHAN, regretted that most hospitals in Nigeria did not have endoscopy machines suitable to the needs of children.

“Diagnostic and Therapeutic endoscopy has advanced very much in the western world.

“Challenges in making diagnosis as well as managing disorders affecting children continue to dog our country Nigeria.

“This appears to be accentuated by the economic downturn being currently experienced,’’ Abiodun said.

Earlier, Dr Idowu Senbanjo, the Lagos State Chairman of NISPGHAN, welcomed the participants to the state, urging them to explore and enjoy their stay.

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