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Kids’ health in this city

Nairobi, like most cities in developing countries, is full of kids. Latest demographic figures estimate that about 42 percent of the Kenyan population is under 14 years. Extrapolating that to the Nairobi population brings the total number of children to well over a million.

The city owes this vast number of children many things that include proper housing, clean water, food, safety and good health. Children’s health starts in the womb, Nairobi women must have access to good maternity care.

And this is more so for the lower socio-economic group, majority living in Nairobi slums and only able to access wanting public services.

Once the children are born, we must encourage breastfeeding, and if at all necessary, support mothers who must feed their newborns with formula milk. Simple advice that newborn babies should sleep on their backs and in separate cots, have been proven to save lives by preventing Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Support with nutrition helps prevent childhood diseases related to malnutrition. And we must ensure that every child gets the recommended vaccines.

Preventing injury and other diseases takes priority as kids grow bigger. City by-laws should enforce measures that include mandatory helmets for bicycles, car restraints and seat belts, and general road safety measures for children. Some countries report reduction of car-related childhood injuries by up to 70 percent through enforcement of seat belt use alone.

City parks must also be conducive for use by children. Physical activity is vital for growing kids, who must be encouraged to have about 60 minutes of moderately intense physical activity most days of the week. This helps with development of healthy muscles, bones and joints, in addition to limiting childhood obesity with its associated ills.

There is more to do in the home front as well to optimize childhood health. Parents and carers must inculcate healthy behaviour in kids. Simple hygiene and hand washing prevents many diarrhoea and vomiting diseases. Kids must sleep under insecticide treated mosquito nets, every night without fail. And all house hold hazardous material, including medicines must be kept out of the reach of kids all the time.

General house safety must be ensured, with smoke and gas alarms, and planned escape routes. Kids must be supported with school work and their own individual interests. We should never tire to compliment them as often as possible, this boosts their confidence and psychological morale. And let’s not expose our unhealthy habits to kids, like excessive drinking and smoking.

No matter all reasonable precautions, children will occasionally get sick or injured. Over-the-counter remedies are ill-advised, common conditions like coughs and colds hardly need antibiotics. Assessment by a Paediatrician of Family doctor is the best approach.Nairobi County must provide well-staffed and stocked health facilities catering for the city’s kids.

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