More than 700 babies die daily in Nigeria due to lack of hygiene to ward off preventable infections at birth, an official of the Federal Ministry of Health, Mrs. Evelyn Agbanyim has said.
She identified the major causes of neonatal deaths in Nigeria to include low birth weight, birth asphyxia and infections, which account for 80 per cent of deaths among children. Agbanyim, who spoke at an awareness seminar in Awka on how to stem the tide of neonatal mortality in Nigeria, attributed the development to ignorance, poor funding and ineffective application of life-saving neonatal commodities for women and children’s health.
According to her, the Federal Government decided to carry the campaign to the relevant stakeholders in the country following the worrisome situation, adding that those targeted were policy makers, religious and traditional rulers, professional associations and regulatory bodies and the media.
She said: “Over the last decade, progress in addressing the high rate of neonatal mortality in Nigeria has been rather slow due to skills gap, poor referral network, inadequate training of health personnel, poor policy implementation and inadequate supply of the commodities.”
According to her, maintaining the current trend will not significantly reduce neonatal mortality and so, there is need to accelerate efforts towards adequate funding to redress the situation.
She observed that despite in interventions in the past, much remained to be done to ensure access, affordability and availability of the commodities to the most vulnerable group in the country, adding that one of the major barriers of access to essential healthcare services in Nigeria was shortage and inequitable distribution of appropriate cadres of health work force to deliver the services where they were most needed.