Sunday, September 27, 2015

We must save newborns in Nigeria — DOSEKUN

Before the end of today about 700 newborns would have died in Nigeria swelling up the 270,000 neonatal deaths that occur within the first month of life, a Consultant Paediatrician, and Managing Director, Outreach Children’s Hospital Festac Town, Lagos, Dr. Efunbo Dosekun has disclosed. Every year, seven million babies are born in Nigeria and nearly 300,000 are stillborn. With nearly 90,000 deaths in the first 24 hours of life, Nigeria has the second highest burden of first day deaths in the world or 9 percent of the global total. In addition, 40,000 women die from pregnancy and childbirth complications each year. Statistics available have shown that Nigeria’s rate of neonatal mortality reduction was estimated at 1.83 percent per year from 2000 – 2012, while under-five mortality for the same period was nearly twice as fast at 3.47 percent and maternal mortality declined at 4.1 percent from 2000 to 2013. Unfortunately, despite these scary statistics little or nothing is being done to stop the unnecessary deaths which Dosekun says can be prevented if all hands are on deck. However in what seems like a call to action, Anu Dosekun Healthcare Foundation has rolled out a campaign – “The Better Chance For Babies Campaign” that will bring together Non Governmental Organisations, individuals, corporate organisations, Philanthropists, government at all levels and the media to face the challenge of protecting the basic human right to life for Nigerian babies by bridging the gap in acute health services for babies and preterms in the country. Dosekun who spoke in Lagos lamented that a report by the Nigerian Academy of Science and Saving Newborn Nigerian Lives showed that 1 out of 20 babies die in Nigeria. She noted that the nation’s health system was weak particularly in the area of maternal care and acute care for sick babies and preterms hence the urgent need for capacity building and infrastructural development. Dosekun called for establishment of a National Children Hospital in all states. “There is a large neonatal gap services. Babies born outside the public sector hospitals are carried from one secondary hospital to the other in hired transport with majority dying during the hazardous trip. “There is need for Nigeria to develop unique model for improving the scope of preventive and promotive neonatal care and developing acute care centres for sick babies and preterm babies particularly for babies born outside the public sector health facilities. Noting that 90% of deaths of newborn babies were preventable, she said to stop these deaths and improve the facilities, Nigerians, the Foundation has mapped out 12 things it would do for better lives for neonatal. “We will be expanding access to Neonatal Health services in Nigeria, create awareness and educate the public, capacity building of healthcare professionals in acute neonatal care at primary, secondary and tertiary level, creation of a stimulation training centre, ambulance neonatal retrieval services with a specialist transport crew, research and development among others. She said the Foundation had rescued more than 40,000 sick babies in five years. “Children are different from adults and their treatments are different. They cannot speak and there is need for special trained medical experts to make diagnosis. There are new technologies government should be able to bring them down for these children.”

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