Professor of Paediatric Surgery, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago Iwoye, Ogun State, Olusola Shonubi, has said that paediatric surgery is generally excluded from most child health programmes in developing countries, including Nigeria.

He said this during the 70th inaugural lecture of the institution on Tuesday at the Ago Iwoye campus, with the theme, Children: Redressing nature’s construction. Shonubi noted that due to this neglect, many congenital anomalies go unreported and children die of easily correctable surgical conditions.

He said, “It is quite unfortunate that health care policy in developing countries does not recognise the surgical needs of children because paediatric surgery is still largely viewed as non-essential service. “We need a national policy that defines access to health care by children so as to ensure quality, irrespective of socio-economic status or where the child is resident.”

Shonubi, who called on health professionals to help create workable community norms and public policies, advised that the Association of Paediatric Surgeons of Nigeria and Paediatric Association of Nigeria should cooperate to provide the needed advocacy in prioritising children’s health.

He said, “If we are able to generate sufficient data demonstrating that childhood surgical conditions are a significant public health care challenge, then we are likely to change health care policy and ensure adequate resources for paediatric surgical care. “It is also my expectation that appropriate laws would be enacted and faithfully applied to protect the health and well-being of children.

“The ultimate goal of the national policy would be to address most, if not all, of the challenges being faced in the delivery of paediatric surgical services. These include bridging the funding gap, developing clinical practice, surgical training and increasing sub-specialisation.” Shonubi lamented that only a small fraction of children in developing countries had access to basic paediatric surgical care due to limited facilities, equipment and human resources.

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