‘Why defective babies in poor countries have low survival rate’
A study, published in The Lancet journal, offered reasons why babies born with defects in Nigeria and in low-income nations have higher chances of dying compared to those delivered in developed countries.
Conducted by scientists from 74 nations, including medical doctors from the National Hospital Abuja, Lagos University Teaching Hospital (LUTH), Idi-Araba and University College Hospital (UCH) Ibadan, the survey highlighted the importance of care received before or after the corrective operations at surgical centres.
The researchers found out that babies treated at hospitals without access to ventilation and intravenous nutrition had higher chances of dying. Further, not having skilled anaesthetic support and lack of surgical safety checklist at the time of operation were also identified.
According to the research, survival for a baby born with a birth defect – otherwise known as a congenital anomaly – is dependent on the place of delivery.
The scientific work examined the risk of mortality for nearly 4,000 babies with birth defects in 264 hospitals globally. It discovered that the defective kids with intestinal tract have a one in 20 chance of dying in a high-income country compared to one in five in a middle-income country and two in five in a low-income country.
The inquiry further noted that gastroschisis, an imperfection where the baby comes with protruding intestine through a hole at the umbilicus (navel), strikes a noticeable difference in mortality, with 90 per cent of kids dying in low-income countries compared with one per cent in high-income nations.
In developed economies, most of these babies would be alive without disabilities.
The National Lead, Dr. Taiwo Lawal, who is of the UCH, Ibadan, emphasised the need for stakeholders and policy drivers to seize the occasion to check the widening gap between the global north and south by reducing unmet surgical needs of children.
The Principal Investigator, Dr. Naomi Wright, said: “Geography should not determine outcomes for babies who have correctable surgical conditions.”
Global Project Steering Committee Member and Chief Consultant Paediatric Surgeon at the National Hospital, Abuja, Prof. Emmanuel Ameh, said improving survival in low- and middle-income countries involve three key elements: enhancing antenatal diagnosis and delivery at a hospital with children’s surgical care; improving care for babies born at primary and secondary care facilities, with a safe and quick transfer to a tertiary surgical centre; and improved care for babies at the surgical centre.
Chief of Paediatrics Surgery at LUTH, Prof. Adesoji Ademuyiwa, challenged leaders at the federal, state and local government levels to prioritise the surgical needs of children.