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Pediatrician Bemoans Smoking Epidemic

Professor Aishat Gobir, the Provost, College of Medicine, Federal University of Health Sciences, Ila-Orangun, Osun State, has raised an alarm over the prevalence of drug abuse and smoking among children in Nigeria which she described as an epidemic.

She spoke on the perennial issue of substance abuse during an interview in Ilorin, the Kwara State capital, North Central Nigeria.

The pediatrician expressed her dismay at the acts which are known to often occur among adults and adolescents but are gradually getting common among younger children.

She said, “Smoking of tobacco and other substances is now an epidemic it often occurs among adults and adolescents but now younger children are getting involved in this act.

In the past, it can only be found among those within the age of 18 and above but now we are finding children of lower ages.”

According to her, its availability to the children is like targeting to destroy the future generation, when the younger ones are addicted to drugs, there is a high likelihood of school dropout.

The Pediatrician added that apart from the issue of dropping out from school and becoming a burden to themselves, their family, and society, there is an issue of crime, a drug addict can do anything to get high, and they can go into armed robbery, internet fraud, prostitution and even hired assassin just to get their hands on these drugs hence this is contributing majorly to crime.

“This is so bad despite knowing the risk involved as it is written boldly on the pack of cigarettes that smokers are liable to die young, when you use tobacco and other illicit substances, it is a choice despite the that the thing is capable of killing you or ruining your life.

“At a point when you have abused the substances to some extent, you’ll begin to get controlled by the substances that is why the users find it hard to get rid of it despite knowing the adverse effects it is having on them because they modify the mood.” the Provost noted.

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Gobir stated that smoking is responsible for the majority of cancer cases saying that, “the likes of tobacco is very much associated with many cases of Cancer, as a matter of fact, no single substance is as associated with cases of Cancer as much as Tobacco”.

She added that nonsmokers such as children are also at risk of smoker’s induced health complications like lung cancer when they are in a smoker’s environment.

“Cancers, for example, lung cancer affects smokers and nonsmokers once they’re in the environment of smokers, but cancer has been so associated with smoking, Breast cancer, ovarian cancer, and many others are also associated with smoking, as well as chronic aero diseases like obstructive pulmonary is associated with it,” she said.

The Don, therefore, urged governments at all levels to involve the traditional institution and community leaders in intensifying its fight against drug abuse.

Gobir while expressing her thoughts towards the student loan under the recently passed Higher Education Act of 2023, described it as a way to achieve “a university system that provides the best and also offers the best to the lecturers as well as the students and therefore the society itself.”

“What we’re saying is that we want a university system that provides the best and also offers the best to the lecturers as well as the students and therefore the society itself and I think one of the ways to achieve that is this higher Education act, if you look at the student’s loan, they want the funding to come from those revenues collected from certain bodies like Nigerian Custom, Nigerian Immigration and other revenue making agencies.

“We know it exists elsewhere, however, we have things that have worked in other places but have difficulty working in Nigeria, but I think the Government had taken its time to think about it, several years ago it had been in the pipeline and the person who first brought it forward (ex-Speaker of the House of Reps, Hon. Femi Gbajabiamila) is still part of this Government, So I think they would have looked at it to try and see if it would work.”

In another part of her remarks, the Don also lamented the State of University education in the Country, saying; “Higher education in Nigeria hasn’t received enough funding stressing that it is one of the things ASUU has always complained about, our classroom, our facilities are overstretched, the federal government owned institutions absorb more than 85% of Nigerian students”.

She expressed her disappointment that lecturers are poorly paid as the average pay of Nigerian Professor is #400,000 monthly, and that she would be cautious to say that they are not dedicated but added that she is sure that nobody is expecting full commitment from someone at that level that is being paid that amount of money, of course, that person will look for other avenues to also make ends meet.