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NPC raises the alarm over rising child mortality in Nigeria

By Ayodele Afolabi, Ado-Ekiti) and Victor Uzoho (Lagos)
18 November 2020   |   4:02 am
The National Population Commission (NPC) has raised the alarm over the growing rate of child mortality in the country, saying relevant stakeholders must rise to the occasion to arrest the ugly trend.

Experts say newborn deaths remain Nigeria’s major health challenge

The National Population Commission (NPC) has raised the alarm over the growing rate of child mortality in the country, saying relevant stakeholders must rise to the occasion to arrest the ugly trend.

Federal Commissioner of the NPC in charge of Ekiti State, Mr. Ayodeji Ajayi, stated this in Akure during the virtual and verbal launch of the National Population Commission (NPC) 2019 Verbal and Social Autopsy (VASA) study report.

Ajayi, represented by the Ekiti State Director of NPC, Mr. Adeyanju Samuel Ayomola, said the report, generated in collaboration with the federal ministries of Health and Women Affairs, Bureau of Statistics, the academia, USAID, among others, indicated that a lot more still needed to be done.

According to him, the exercise was in fulfilment of the constitutional mandate of the commission to collect data for planning purposes so as to assist policy-makers plan and formulate policies for the health sector in relation to infant and child mortality in Nigeria.

He said the verbal and social autopsy survey was a study that sought to ascertain the causes and determinants of under-five mortality in Nigeria between 2013 and 2018, stressing that the 2019 VASA survey was the second in the series, as the commission had conducted the first VASA survey in selected households across the country.

He said during the exercise, 3,215 under-five mortality cases were selected, out of which 974, making 31 per cent, are neonates while 2,241, making 69 per cent, are children spread across the country.

He noted that the regional spread of the deaths during the period under review were 614 (20 per cent) of the total deaths in the southern part of the country, while 2,601 (80 per cent) occurred in the North.

The NPC commissioner, therefore, appealed to Nigerians, particularly stakeholders in the health sector, to avail themselves of the huge data generated by the 2019 VASA survey in the planning, execution and evaluation of health programmes for infants and children in the country.

MEANWHILE, a professor of Pediatrics at Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Chinyere Ezeaka, said newborn mortality had remained one of Nigeria’s major health challenges.

According to her, the country ranks the highest in Africa, and second globally after India, in terms of neonatal deaths. Ezeaka, who stated this, yesterday, in Lagos at an event organised by LUTH to mark the World Prematurity Day, said newborn deaths contributed 32 per cent to under-five mortality in the nation.

In her remarks, Consultant Paediatrician, LUTH, Dr. Iretiola Fajolu, said the shortage of skilled members of staff and equipment were major challenges in managing preterm babies in the country.

She said respiratory distress syndrome, sepsis and intraventricular haemorrhage and congenital abnormalities were the major causes of preterm deaths.

Also, Chairman Medical Advisory Committee, CMAC, Prof. Wasiu Adeyemo, said even with the scarce resources in the country, LUTH had built a skilled team with speciality in managing preterm, saying the hospital would continue to give its best to the general public.

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