Nigeria has the 11th highest rate of newborn deaths in the world, a new report by the United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF, says.
The report which was released on Tuesday focused on “Newborn Mortality.”
The global average newborn deaths per 1,000 births is 29. But with 37 newborns dying in every 1000 births in the country, Nigeria’s newborn mortality rate is higher than the global average.
“In the recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by the Government of Nigeria in 2016/17, the rate of newborn deaths per 1000 births is 37,” the UNICEF report noted.
“This national average hides the differences between the 36 states and the slow progress in some of them,’’ the report added.
It stated that globally, the average newborn mortality rate was 27 deaths per 1,000 births in low-income countries, while in high-income countries, it was three deaths per 1,000 births.
According to the report, eight 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.
On the causes of newborn deaths, the report said more than 80 per cent were due to prematurity, asphyxia, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis.
“These deaths can be prevented with access to well-trained midwives during antenatal and postnatal visits as well as delivery at a health facility.
“These should be along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact, proper cord care, and good nutrition.
“However, a shortage of well-trained health workers and midwives means that thousands don’t receive the life-saving support they need to survive,’’ it said.
According to a statement issued by UNICEF, the agency’s Nigeria Representative, Mohammed Fall, said 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 (SDGs),’’ he said.
The statement also quoted the Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, as saying “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. Given that the majority of these deaths are preventable, clearly we are failing the world’s poorest babies.’’