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Partnering to reduce newborn deaths

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A professor of paediatrics at the College of the Medicine University of Lagos, and Clinical Lead, Newborn Essential Solution and Technologies (NEST360°), Chinyere Ezeaka, has said Nigeria loses more than 250,000 babies yearly to preventable and treatable causes.

According to her, it is the highest in Africa and second-highest globally.

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However, despite the global efforts to end preventable newborn deaths by 2030, through the Sustainable Development Goal 3.2, the expert explained that with current progress, the goal would not be met in 10 years rather in 100 years.

The paediatrician made the remarks at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH) Idi-Araba during the NEST360 launch of Donated Equipment to Pilot Health Facilitates in Nigeria.

Ezeaka stated that the cause of newborn deaths such as prematurity, infections, birth asphyxia, congenital abnormalities among others can be reduced with the wide-scale adoption of comprehensive newborn care, a standard of care available in the United States and the United Kingdom.

She noted that to reverse the trend, the country needs life-saving technologies, equipment and trained staff to manage preterm babies and newborn in distress.

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The expert said that NEST360° would strengthen the capacity of health workers to provide quality neonatal care, using carefully crafted in-service and the pre-service training programme, mentorship and supportive supervision.

Also, Country Director, NEST360°, Dr. Opeyemi Odedere, said they are working with the Federal Ministry of Health to equip neonatal units in Nigerian hospitals with basic essential equipment that would be used for the proper management of newborns.

Odedere said beyond the donation, they are training health worker, clinicians and biomedical engineers to be able to use and repair the equipment.

According to him, equipment donated were oxygen concentrators, Suction pump, Phototherapy light Flow Splitter Canta, Pulse Oximeter Bistos, Radiant Warmer and Bubble CPAP Pumani.

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He added that NEST360° is an evidence-based model for sustainable health systems to close gaps in technology, innovation, Human Resources, capacity building and sustainable markets for implementation of quality hospital-based newborn care on a national scale.

The country director disclosed that they would establish an inpatient neonatal database to assess the impact of NEST package by comparing pre and post mortality at each facility.

He added that pilot implementation of the NEST programme which is occurring in two tertiary; Lagos University Teaching hospital and University College Hospital, Ibadan and five other secondary hospitals in Lagos and Ibadan targeted to reduce at least 50per cent deaths in hospital by developing and distributing high-quality technologies and services for newborn.

Chief Medical Director, LUTH, Prof Chris Bode said the donations would save newborns, premature babies who might have perished from the lack of life-saving equipment.

He said LUTH was glad to have been chosen as one of the pilot sites and we also encourage the donor to spread the gesture across the country.

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