No fewer than 250, 000 infants die every year in Nigeria due to lack of unskilled health workers and antenatal care, Dr Elizabeth Disu, a consultant Paediatrician said on Friday in Lagos.
Disu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that new born deaths and child mortality was becoming rampant as Nigeria recorded the highest neonatal deaths in Africa.
The consultant with the Lagos State University Teaching Hospital (LASUTH), highlighted poverty, poor education, lack of antenatal care and late presentation at the hospitals as major causes of infant deaths.
“Nigeria currently has the highest number of neonatal deaths in Africa with 37 per 1,000 live births.
“Because of our huge population, we are losing over 250, 000 neonates every year and that is not to count still births. This is unacceptable and we need to address this problem.
“We have to look at the underlining causes of these deaths, ranging from poverty to lack of antenatal care and not coming early to the hospital for delivery.
“There are also root causes which include the kind of healthcare system that we have in place and government’s commitment to new born health,’’ she said.
Disu urged stakeholders, government and non-governmental organisations to organise training for health workers on the basic ways to recognise danger signs in infants to prevent complications and deaths.
“We can address these issues by ensuring that we train and retrain the foot soldiers who are the primary healthcare workers at the grassroots.
“We need to train them on basic evidence-based preventive measures of causes of child birth, like how to help babies breathe properly at birth.
“That is one of the problems; some babies die at birth because they cannot initiate breathing on their own.
“Teach them basic skills that will help babies to survive and how to recognise danger signs in infants.
“If we can also educate mothers on the need to present cases early enough at the hospitals.
“And if government is able to provide the needed facilities along with trained healthcare worker, we are on the way to reducing infant and child mortality in the country,’’ she said.