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NGO decries rising cases of avoidable deaths among students

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The Make A Difference Initiative (MADI) has decried the rising cases of avoidable deaths among pupils and urged parents to ensure regular medical examinations for their children to detect and manage any potential health issues early to avert sudden tragedy.

The non-governmental organisation noted that several reports across the country of sudden deaths of students facing one form or the other of disciplinary actions from their teachers should not just worry us, but cause us to take proactive medical steps.

MADI’s Executive Director, Mr. Lemmy Ughegbe told reporters that “in recent times, we have heard news across the country of how students who are being whipped by their teachers suddenly collapse and die. We read report of such cases in Abaji and a similar one in Kuje. We also read similar tales from Enugu, Delta, etc. This should tell you there are health concerns that go undetected because we do not conduct medicals.

“Schools may now need to insist that parents get medical examination done on the children every session and make such reports available to the schools. This procedure must be genuine medical in order to meet the objective. No parents should concoct it otherwise the purpose will be defeated.

“To this end, our initiative will be interfacing with lawmakers in an attempt to make them see a need to take legislative action towards making a law that will mandate parents to take their children for periodic medical examination. This will go a long way in curtailing the rise in avoidable sudden death”.

MADI also commended the FCT Police Commissioner, Bernard Igweh and his team for the rapid and thorough investigation into the tragic death of Miguel Ovoke, a pupil of Brickhall School, Abuja.

The initiative also commended the management of Brickhall School for connecting with the emotion of the bereaved family and naming a resource room after Miguel to keep his memory alive despite being cleared of wrong doing through the autopsy.

Miguel’s mother had initially alleged that her son died on 24 April 2024 as a result of electrocution at the school and mobilised friends and supporters to mount protests at the school gate.

To avert a possible breakdown of law and order and determine the true cause of death, an autopsy was ordered by the Police Commissioner at the National Hospital, Abuja on 23 May with representatives of the family and the school in attendance.

Ughegbe noted that “the autopsy findings revealed that Miguel’s death was caused by asphyxiation (choking) due to a meatball lodged in his lungs; a situation further complicated by his pre-existing condition of tonsillitis, which had narrowed his airway, making it more difficult for him to breathe. The autopsy cleared Brickhall School of the allegation of electrocution”.

“We applaud the FCT Police Commissioner and his men for the swift action taken to investigate this matter thoroughly. Their diligent work has provided clarity and justice in this tragic case, showcasing their commitment to transparency and public safety”.

While noting that the child’s death might have been avoidable, Ughegbe said that “our foundation extends our deepest condolences to Miguel’s family who has accepted the death of their child as “an act of God”.

In light of this incident, MADI is also appealing to parents and caregivers to exercise utmost caution in preparing food for their children.

He advised: “We cannot stress enough the importance of meticulous food preparation and the careful selection of food items to avoid choking hazards. Foods such as bony fish or meat offal should be excluded from meals for young children to ensure their safety.

“Parents must be vigilant in preventing similar tragedies. Let us prioritise the health and safety of our children by providing them with meals that are both nutritious and safe. This incident serves as a stark reminder of the need for extra care when it comes to young children’s diets.

“MADI’s appeal aims to raise awareness among parents, schools and caregivers about the potential risks associated with certain foods and to promote safer practices in child nutrition. By taking proactive steps, parents, schools that provide food for the students and other caregivers can help prevent avoidable accidents and ensure a safer environment for their children to thrive.

“We urge all parents to be meticulous in preparing their children’s meals. Simple precautions can make a significant difference in safeguarding our children from such preventable tragedies”.

MADI called for continuous vigilance and education on child safety in food preparation, emphasising that the wellbeing of children must always come first.

The initiative decries the rising cases of avoidable deaths among pupils and urges parents to ensure regular medical examinations for their children to detect and manage any potential health issues early.

“By doing so, we can create a safer and healthier environment for our children”, Ughegbe further said.

On the yet-to-be-resolved case of the late 100 level student of Veritas University, Joshua Daniel-Ejigbo, MADI urged the FCT Police Commissioner and his team to urgently and professionally conclude the investigation by ensuring that the truth is unravelled.

“Parents as well as the school need closure. Unravelling the fact will go a long way to fastracking healing and having closure”, Ughegbe stated.

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