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Opinion

Low Birth Weight” Impact on Newborns

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Faith John

The significance weight of a newborn carries more than mere numbers on a scale. Low birth weight, a silent but profound challenge, casts a shadow over the promising dawn of infancy.

The World Health Organization (WHO) sees low weight as weight at birth less than 2500 g (5.5 lb). Low birth weight continues to be a significant public health problem globally and is associated with a range of both short- and long term consequences. Overall, it is estimated that 15% to 20% of all births worldwide are low birth weight, representing more than 20 million births a year.

At the forefront of concerns is the vulnerability of these infants to a myriad of health complications. From respiratory distress syndrome to developmental delays, low birth weight amplifies the risk of a spectrum of issues that can cast a long shadow into childhood and beyond. The fragility of underweight newborns demands vigilant medical care and heightened attention to safeguard their well-being.

Cognitive development, a cornerstone of a child’s future, stands at the crossroads when low birth weight enters the narrative. Research suggests that these infants may face a higher likelihood of cognitive impairments, affecting their learning abilities and academic achievements.

Low birth weight babies are more likely to have health problems later in their lives. These issues may be related to also being born prematurely, or to failing to get the nutrition they needed at critical times during their gestation. Early intervention and treatment are critical to helping growing kids develop normally.
The goal of the World Health Organisation is to achieve a 30% reduction in the number of infants born with a weight lower than 2500 g by the year 2025. This would translate into a 3% relative reduction per year between 2012 and 2025 and a reduction from approximately 20 million to about 14 million infants with low weight at birth.
WHO’s Member States have endorsed global targets for improving maternal, infant and young child nutrition and are committed to monitoring progress. The targets are vital for identifying priority areas for action and catalysing global change.
As medicine allows smaller and more prematurely born infants to survive, we see these children developing a range of health outcomes. Some have no illnesses or negative outcomes at all, while others continue to have slower growth, more illnesses, and other problems throughout their lives. Babies with low birth weight born into situations where they are at risk socially or economically are more at risk for health problems

About 80 percent of low birth weight infants suffer some long-term side effects, from impaired immune systems or lung problems to learning disabilities, behavior problems or even cerebral palsy. About 20 percent of premature and low birth weight babies go on to have no health problems at all. However, parents of all low birth weight infants must provide good nutrition and health care throughout childhood to ensure the best outcomes for these children.
Advances in medical science, coupled with proactive healthcare measures, offer a beacon for positive change. From innovative interventions during pregnancy to specialized neonatal care, the healthcare landscape is evolving to provide tailored solutions for newborns on the lower end of the weight spectrum.
The societal response to low birth weight must transcend the confines of the clinic and extend into communities, fostering a culture of awareness and support. Education on prenatal health, access to nutritional resources, and destigmatization of preconceived notions surrounding low birth weight are vital steps toward a more equitable start for every child.
Governments and health practitioners can play pivotal roles in addressing and reducing low birth weight by Investing in accessible and affordable prenatal care services, ensuring that all pregnant individuals have timely and comprehensive healthcare throughout their pregnancies.
Health practitioners should emphasize the importance of early and regular prenatal visits, monitoring the health of both the mother and the developing fetus. Implement programs that focus on improving overall maternal health, including nutrition, mental health support, and lifestyle guidance. Educate women on the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle before and during pregnancy, addressing factors such as proper nutrition, regular exercise, and avoiding harmful substances.
Governments should work towards reducing socioeconomic inequalities that contribute to disparities in birth weight. This involves initiatives that improve access to education, employment opportunities, and social services. Ensure that healthcare facilities are adequately equipped to provide specialized care for low birth weight infants, including neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) and trained healthcare professionals. Health practitioners should receive ongoing training to stay updated on the latest advancements in neonatal care.
By adopting a comprehensive and collaborative approach, governments and health practitioners can significantly contribute to the reduction of low birth weight, fostering healthier beginnings for the next generation. Thanks to the WHO Global nutrition target which is aimed at reducing low birth weight.

Faith John Gwom
Department of Mass Communication
University of Maiduguri

Opinion

Letter To The President On The Re-Introduction Of Subsidy

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Dear President Tinubu

Sir,every Nigerian with rudimentary knowledge of economics will agree with you that fuel subsidy has to go, it has stagnate the growth of our economy over the years,benefitting only selected few.
Most Nigerians have no qualms with subsidy removal,its the approach that was used that we have reservation for. There is no doubt that the removal of fuel subsidy had ripple effect on the woof and warp of Nigeria’s economic fabric. The private sector is struggling to keep up with the reality of the moment and civil servants in public sector are financially incapacitated.
Nigeria’s present consumer price index (CPI), stood at almost 30%, this clearly shows a reduction in the citizens purcasing power. Families are finding it difficult to have 2 meals a day; this will have resultant negative effects on the health of the citizens and may reduce manpower ability to contribute to the Nations gross domestic product (GDP).
Nigeria at this point needs to invest massively in agriculture, to make surplus food available to the citizens at an affordable rate. Agriculture is one of the most subsidized sector of most world power’s economy. United States,Russia and China controls the world grains reserve because of the subsidies available for agriculture and other working policies. NIRSAL is a case study of working policy in Nigeria, its a fantastic government programme that was supposed to transform Nigeria’s agriculture by making funds available to real farmers who produce what Nigerians consume daily,but it could not achieve its objective due to the Nigerian factor.

Yes, subsidy is gone in the petroleum industry, but it needs to be re-introduced into agriculture to make funds available for small scale farmers who produce 70% of the food items consumed in Nigeria. Also, there is the need for more regulatory policies in the agrochemical industry to control sub-standard products in the market and possibly provide tax waivers to reduce the market price of these agrochemicals.

Fertilizer is a key component of agricultural production which must be made available to farmers at subsidized rate. The e-wallet template used by Dr. Akinwumi Adesina of African development bank when he was Nigeria’s minister of agriculture is a tested and verified framework for reaching out to small scale farmers.

Insecurity is an integral index in Nigeria’s agricultural sector today, there is the need to improve on the country’s security architecture and a synergy should be put in place betwern the proposed agro-rangers and the various security apparatus ( army,airfoce, police etc). Farmers should be able to go about their business with maximum safety and also a viable solution must be worked out to put a stop to farmers/cattle rearers conflict by establishing a symbiotic relationship between both party.

The twelve River Basin Development Authorities can provide the fulcrum for achieving food security, with thousands of hectares of lands,Dams,Canals and other Irrigation structures in their control for achieving an all year round farming. More funds needs to be funneled into these agencies for revitalization and expansion of existing infrastructures.
Nigeria is presently at a turbulent time in its economic history; making food available to the masses at an affordable rate through subsidized agriculture is necessary to extinguish the embers of looming disquiet in Nigeria.
Ibrahim Baba-Ibrahim writes from Ilorin. ibrahimbabaibrahim@gmail.com

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Opinion

Government Panics as Cost of Living Crisis Deepens

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Professor Jibril Ibrahim

 

Jibrin Ibrahim

The Tinubu Administration is a fanatic believer in economic liberalism and market forces. Based on its belief, it cancelled fuel subsidy and floated the naira so that it can find its true value. The naira played its part and has been rising steadily desperately searching for its true market value, which it turns out, is still very far away. The result is a “misery crisis” as food prices rise beyond the incomes of ordinary citizens whose naira is too small to enable them purchase food and hunger and anger spreads throughout the land. The President who always tells Nigerians that he understands their pains then offers a solution and orders distribution of free grains from the Strategic Food Reserves. It turned out the civil servants forgot to brief him that the reserves are empty.

Over the past few weeks, hunger and anger have led to street protests all over the country and strike threats. Our politically savvy President sensing the danger decides that since the stupid market forces are now threatening his turn to rule in peace, he must find a diversion. If you search, you will find. The Bureau de Change operators, the “Mallams”, are responsible for destroying the capacity of the “market forces” he unleashed to bring down the cost of living. He therefore got the EFCC to establish a Special Task Force across its commands, to clamp down on individuals “dollarizing” the Nigerian economy. The gun trotting operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission have since Monday been raiding Bureau de Change operators and arresting them all over the country. The task force which was inaugurated by the Executive Chairman of the Commission, Ola Olukoyede, was raised: “to protect the economy from abuses, leakages, and distortions exposing it to instability and disruption”, we were told.

Those of us of a certain age were brought up in an era in which the dollar did not circulate as a means of exchange or store of value and we used our currency, the naira. Did our Afrobeat hero Fela Kuti not do to jail for having dollars cash that he wanted to travel out of the country with to perform in a concert? Then the neoliberals told us it was imperative to allow free purchase and sell of foreign currency. They even encouraged us to open domiciliary accounts in our banks to store foreign currency which government guaranteed will be safe as the ideology of free markets requires the assurance. The Central Bank of Nigeria licensed thousands of BDCs and asked them to trade in currencies. Why the hell are they being arrested today for doing what the law asked them to do? The other panic move is to place the blame on crypto-currency websites for stealing the value of the naira. The issue is that the few people with naira, conscious of its steady and daily loss of value, would seek to protect their asset anyway they can, won’t they?

The fact of the matter is that we are simply not earning enough foreign currency to meet our high demands for imported goods. In so doing, for decades, we have relied on petroleum rent as our major source of foreign currency. Then to our shock, in 2022, the Group Managing Director of NNPCL, Mele Kyari, explained to us in a State House media briefing that most of our petroleum was being stolen so the dollars are no longer coming in. Mr. Kyari blamed various sections of the Nigerian society for being complicit in the theft of millions of barrels of crude oil, mentioning even that make-shift pipelines and stolen fuel have been found in churches and mosques.

We were told that between January and July 2022, Africa’s biggest oil producer lost an average of 437,000 barrels of oil a day to criminal entities and individuals who illicitly tap pipelines onshore and offshore in the Niger Delta region. The solution to the problem is therefore clear – stop the oil theft and more dollars will come in. The bigger issue is that for a rentier State, safeguarding the source of rent is an existential problem and simple logic should have prevailed and made the state stop the theft. The underlying reality, as we all know however, is that our political leaders and upper echelons of our security forces are beneficiaries of the oil theft. They have taken the decision to eat the goose that lays the golden egg and move to Dubai thereafter as rich refugees.

There is still an explanation needed for the astronomic collapse of the Naira over the past few weeks. What the hell is going on? The answer, says the research done by Business Day is that we should look at those with a lot of naira – government. Since the removal of fuel subsidy, the Federal and State governments have been receiving massive amounts of naira through the disbursement of money by the Federation Account Allocation Committee (FAAC). BusinessDay learnt that portions of the funds from FAAC were often changed to dollars by some governments at the parallel market, putting more pressure on the naira. Their analysis shows that from July 2023 to January 2024, the naira depreciated in the black market for the six months immediately after the FAAC shared money to the federal, state and local governments:

“With the removal of fuel subsidy, more volumes of naira are being shared by the federal, state and local governments and some of these monies are changed to dollars at the parallel market.” BusinessDay has asked us to open our eyes from now on. We should note the price of dollars one week before FAAC allocation, check back the price after the allocation and you will see clearly the difference. Let’s all do that and know that those who should go to jail are some of our governors and ministers. President Tinubu, please stop panicking, just look around you and you shall see.

Professor Jibrin Ibrahim
Senior Fellow
Centre for Democracy and Development, Abuja
Follow me on twitter @jibrinibrahim17

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Opinion

How Senator Saliu Mustapha is ameliorating the hardships in Kwara Central

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By AbdurRaheem Sa’ad Dembo

It is no longer news that inflation is ravaging the country and it has adversely affected the economic power of the citizens. The surge in the prices of grains and other commodities in the market is alarming and heart-wrenching.

Senator Saliu Mustapha, having been a philantropist and a figure with a good heart prior his ascension to the Senate, understood the implications and consequences of such situations and had, as a matter of urgency, reached out to some indigent households in Kwara Central Senatorial District through distribution of rice and other items in late December, 2023.

Similarly, in mid January,2024 he rolled out NECO, WAEC and UTME scholarships for considerable number of indigent students across some selected schools in Kwara Central. The Chairman, Saliu Mustapha Foundation Education Committee, Prof. Binta Suleiman, who represented Turaki of Ilorin during the flag-off ceremony held at Socrates College, Ilorin admonished the beneficiaries to be focused, dedicated, disciplined and committed to their educational pursuits. She reiterated the commitment of Senator Mustapha to the educational development of his Senatorial district with further award of full scholarship to deserving students among the beneficiaries.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Saliu Mustapha Foundation Education Committee, Yakub Ishowo, explained that the committee initially planned the registration and capturing of the beneficiaries for one week, but was extended to capture over 2000 beneficiaries. Being a member of the committee I can attest to the assertion of the secretary.

Most of the parents of the beneficiaries appreciated the Senator and prayed to Allah to grant him long life and good health. In one of the videos shared by Alhaji Jagunma, one of the parents said they never expected it and that it was enough an evidence that the selection process was devoid of political affiliations and biases. Rather, the emphasis was on those who actually needed it, which were indigent students.

Essentially, the Turaki of Ilorin is much aware of the fact that sharing of food items is a temporary measure to cushion the effects of the inflation at all levels of the society and that the Federal and State governments are working together to ensure a permanent solution that would bring succour to the entire country.

In Mustapha’s philosophy, one should reach out to people in one’s neighbourhood no matter how little, because it would help in alleviating their conditions. One does not have to wait to become a rich person before extending the hand of fellowship to the less privileged in his or her community.

Most importantly,I can confirm recently that Saliu Mustapha has started giving out appointment letters to some individuals in Kwara Central. This will be a continuous thing so that an appreciably large coverage is attained ultimately.

I have always said it that when one’s is fixing other people’s lives, he or she is invariably fixing his or her own life too. According to a former president of the United States, Bill Clinton, “we cannot build our own future without helping others to build theirs”. This is in tandem with the philosophy of Senator Mustapha, hence he is working tirelessly to build others.

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