Maternal and neonatal mortality rate in Nigeria is still high in spite of concerted efforts at eradicating the menace. In this report, ODIRI UCHENUNU-IBEH presents graphic report of the situation in Southwest states of Ondo, Osun, Oyo and Ekiti.
A report obtained by LEADERSHIP has revealed that neonatal mortality, which is the probability of a child dying within 28 days, constitute more than half of the under five deaths in south-west states in Nigeria. According to the new report by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), neonatal mortality rate in Osun, Ekiti and Oyo states are higher than the national average. The breakdown of the report with the title ‘Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey’ (MICS), revealed that in Nigeria, the probability of a child dying within 28 days is 39 percent, within one year is 31 per cent and within five years is 50 percent, meanwhile in South-West Nigeria, the probability of a child dying within 28 days is 36 per cent, within one year is 16 percent and within five years is 15 percent.
The report also stated that neonatal mortality rate in Osun, Ekiti and Oyo states are higher than the national average and child mortality, which is the probability of a child dying between the first and the fifth birthday is higher in Ondo and Osun states with 30/1,000 live births and 23/1,000 live births respectively. In Osun state for instance, the report stated that the probability of a child dying within 28 days is 56 per cent, within one year is 22 percent and within five years is 23 percent. In Ekiti state, the probability of a child dying within 28 days is 46 per cent, within one year is 23 percent and within five years is 17 percent. In Oyo state, the probability of a child dying within 28 days is 42 per cent, within one year is 17 percent and within five years is 14 percent. In Ondo state, the probability of a child dying within 28 days is 30 per cent, within one year is seven percent and within five years is 30 percent. In Ogun state, the probability of a child dying within 28 days is 28 per cent, within one year is 20 percent and within five years is 18 percent while in Lagos state, the probability of a child dying within 28 days is 29 per cent, within one year is 17 percent and within five years is five percent. The report indicated that the rate of maternal and neonatal mortality in the northern part of the country is also as alarming as it is mind boggling hence the need for stakeholders to step-up action in addressing the trend.
Stakeholders who spoke with LEADERSHIP however attributed early childhood mortality to lack of storage equipment in Primary Healthcare Centres (PHCs) and quackery in the health sector. Professor Ayo Ojebode from the University of Ibadan, said a lot of factors are responsible for the prevalence of neonatal deaths in south west Nigeria. In the case of Oyo state, Prof said the state of the clinics and hospitals is something that is worth considering. Ojebode said many of the hospitals in the local area are not equipped with storage facilities. He said, “Even when vaccines are supplied, there is no place to store them and in a case where there is fridge, there might not be electricity to power it. “So a lot of resources goes into procuring the vaccines, the clinics are ready to administer the vaccines Health Insurance Firm Pledges Affordable Coverage For Nigerians and the mothers are also ready to get their children vaccinated, but to get to the clinic where the vaccines are stored is very far from their homes. Some mothers may have to travel very long distance.” So the way out, according to Ojebode is for government to begin to put things in order. He said, “They should ensure that the PHCs in all the local governments have means to preserve the vaccines. This will help to preserve the lives of babies in the state and reduce early childhood mortality.” The Director, Family Health and Nutrition, Lagos State Ministry of Health,
Dr. Folashade Oludara, said one of the reasons for maternal and child mortality is that 90 percent of the people living in Lagos has poor health seeking behavior. Oludara said, “A lot of them go to Traditional Birth Attendants (TBAs), they prefer, for reasons best known to them, quacks, unqualified health care within the society. So how do we change the perception of those people? We need the media to assist us in that area. “There are communities we go to in Lagos State that vehemently refuse immunization and lifesaving commodities, saying it is government’s ploy to kill their children or make them infertile and family planning is not left out.” She however called on the media to change the perception of the people so that the lives of mothers and their children would be saved. The Special Adviser to the Lagos State Governor on Primary Health Care, Dr Olufemi Onanuga said the state government will continue with the implementation of activities and strategies geared towards the reduction of maternal and child deaths in the state through its Maternal and Child Mortality Reduction Programme.
Onanuga said the state government will not relent on its oars at ensuring that preventive measures against maternal and child deaths are embraced and adequate care for maternal and child health are available. According to him, maternal, peri-natal and child (under 5 year) health indices have emerged as the most important health indices that determine global and national wellbeing adding that the 2013 National Demographic Survey, which is our national indices for neonatal, infant, under- 5 children and mothers are far from cheering. The Special Adviser added that the 2013 national Maternal Mortality Rates of 576/100,000 live births compared with the 2010 data of 545/100,000 live births is an indication that everyone has to up our antic concerning maternal and child health interventions. “It is for this reason that I fully lend my voice and support to the Integrated Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Strategy adopted in Nigeria as a panacea to frontally tackle the twin issue of maternal and child mortality”, Onanuga said.