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Published On: Wed, Sep 9th, 2020

Child mortality: Experts decry needs for more NICUs in Nigeria

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By Tobias Lengnan Dapam

Some concerned health experts in the country have raised concerns over the need of boosting the number of Neonatal Intensive Care units in Nigeria to reduce the rate of maternal and infant mortality in the country.
Their concerns came as a recent report released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has shown that more than 400,000 babies dead every year in Nigeria
Part of the fears being raised by the health experts are that Nigeria still ranks higher than countries like Sudan, Ghana, India, Bangladeshi and host of many other nations even with poorer economy
A Paediatric Consultant at Federal Medical Centre, the Founder of First Fertility & Children Hospital, makurdi, Dr. Simon – Peter Gom, said the estimated report to many is still a far-cry from the actual infant mortality rate, as reporting and accurate data collection is severely undermine in the Nigerian society.
Dr. Gom lamented that Nigeria with an estimated population of over 200 million people and estimated 7 million live birth annually has only 23 centres both in public and private facilities to offer respiratory support for newborns.
“The total number of neonatal ventilators available in the newborn units evaluated was 38, located in 23 of the 54 units
“The private units have7 (18.4%) while the public units have 31(81.6%) of the neonatal ventilators, State capitals were the location of 14/22 (63.6%) and 24/38 (63.2%) of the ventilators
“They were most commonly available in the South-West and South-South 11(28.9%) and least available in the North-East 2 (5.2%)
“From the above study, it shows that the highest level of neonatal care in Nigeria is the level 3 neonatal intensive care in very few public tertiary hospitals and a few attempts at the services in private hospitals.
“The above statistics paints a gloomy picture and not a promised future for Nigerian babies especially, those who may have the misfortune being born prematurely or have suffered some intrapartum conditions like, meconium aspiration syndrome, perinatal asphyxia and other conditions which they may need help to survive
“It also explains the high infant mortality rate in our country, Nigeria. It is unacceptable and grossly inadequate that a country with an estimated population of over 200 million people and estimated 7 million livebirth annually has only 23 centres both in public and private facilities to offer respiratory support for newborns.”

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