A new global report on newborn mortality released by the United Nation Children’s Education Fund, UNICEF, has ranked Nigeria the 11th country with the highest number of newborn deaths.
A statement made available to newsmen by UNICEF Communication Specialist, Eva Hinds on Monday in Abuja, noted that globally, one million children do not survive beyond 24 hours after birth.
Making reference to the 2016-17 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by the Federal Government which placed the rate of newborn deaths in the country at 37 per 1000 births, UNICEF’s Executive Director, Henrietta Fore, noted that the national average hides the differences between the 36 states and the slow progress in some of them.
While noting that the situation in Nigeria was improving though progress was very slow, she lamented that global deaths of newborn babies were still alarmingly high particularly among the world’s poorest countries, even though majority of the deaths were preventable.
“Every year, 2.6 million newborns around the world do not survive their first month of life. One million of them die the day they are born.
“Globally, in low-income countries, the average newborn mortality rate is 27 deaths per 1,000 births, the report says. In high-income countries, that rate is 3 deaths per 1,000. Clearly, we are failing the world’s poorest babies.
“While we have more than halved the number of deaths among children under the age of five in the last quarter century, we have not made similar progress in ending deaths among children less than one-month-old.
“The report notes that 8 of the 10 most dangerous places to be born are in sub-Saharan Africa, where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions. With the newborn mortality rate of 29 deaths per 1,000 births, the global estimates rank Nigeria as the 11th highest on newborn deaths.”
On his part, UNICEF Nigeria’s Representative, Mohammed Fall, has urged the Federal Government to double its efforts by recruiting, training and managing a sufficient number of health caregivers with expertise in maternal and newborn care.
He also stressed in the need for the Nigerian government to ensure all health facilities were adequately equipped, make the provision of life-saving drugs and equipment for every mother and child a priority and empower the citizenry to demand and receive quality health care.
Fall noted that “a fair chance in life begins with a strong, healthy start. Unfortunately, many children in Nigeria are still deprived of this.
“MICS data tells us that the trend is improving but urgent action needs to be taken for Nigeria to reach the Sustainable Development Goals. It cannot afford to fail its newborns today,” he said.
Lamenting a shortage of well-trained health workers and midwives to serve as life-saving support babies need to survive, UNICEF has disclosed that plans were underway to launch a global campaign, Every Child Alive, to demand and deliver solutions on behalf of the world’s newborns.