Nigeria gets action plan to cater for sick newborns
•Moves to end preventable stillbirths by 2030
•Records 871,000 premature babies yearly
The Federal Government has launched three new policy documents to tackle health of newborns. They are Nigeria Every Newborn Action Plan, Essential Newborn Care Course (ENCC) training package and National Chlorhexidine Scale Up Strategy document.
The action plan is to serve as a roadmap that focuses on packages of interventions that address care during labour, birth and the first week of life as well as care for small and sick newborn babies.
Speaking at a briefing to commemorate the World Prematurity and Pneumonia Day in Abuja yesterday, the Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, stressed that the every newborn initiative highlights government’s commitment to end preventable stillbirths by year 2030.
“It takes into consideration the evidence from the 2011 Newborn Situation Analysis; the Nigerian Newborn Health Bottleneck Analysis; the 2014 Nigeria’s Call to Action to save every newborn’s life and elaborates the newborn component of the Integrated Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Strategy,” he said.
He noted that the ENCC training package was developed based on a combination of documented evidence about newborn health in the country while not losing sight of global best practices.
Adewole went on: “It conveys the national recommended standards for use at all levels of health care delivery by decision-makers, programme managers and development partners for capacity building of frontline health workers, provision of quality newborn health services and overall development of newborn into childhood.
“National Chlorhexidine Scale Up Strategy document highlights government’s drive to ensure that four per cent Chlorhexidine gel is readily available and used across the country for umbilical cord care. This is one of the 13 lifesaving commodities stipulated by the United Nations Commission and adopted for accelerated access and use in Nigeria.
“The gel can drive significant reduction in neonatal morbidity and mortality. An implementation plan was also developed to guide the process of operationalising the strategy.”
He noted that the day was set aside to raise awareness on the global burden of preterm births and pneumonia with a view to repositioning these issues on government agenda.
He added: “As a country, we thought it strategic to combine the commemoration of these two days this year because they are intricately linked as prematurity is a major risk factor for neonatal pneumonia.
“Globally, about 15 million babies are born prematurely each year. Nigeria, being the third largest contributor to this number, has an estimated 871,000 babies born preterm every year.
“Babies born too soon have a higher risk of death that is 13 times higher than babies born at term. Thus, one of every three newborn deaths is attributable to complications of prematurity. Those who survive may face life-long disabilities, including learning, visual and hearing problems and their quality of life is greatly affected.”