Nigeria has moved backwards on measures that can cut down deaths among children, seeing slower decline in mortality over a 10-year period, a new report on child survival as revealed..
The report indicated that two years to 2015, Nigeria is still not among some 25 countries with high child mortality that have "met or are making significant progress" toward a health-related Millennium Development Goal (MDGs) to reduce child mortality by two-thirds, according to a ranking by the charity Save the Children.
The report tagged, An Agenda for Ending Preventable Child Deaths, considered trends in child and infant mortality, as well as measures to sustain health programmes and ensure equity over periods exceeding 10 years, and concluded Nigeria made "very little progress." It ranks Nigeria 24 among 75 countries for reduction in under-five mortality, equity and sustainability, with a total score of 1.5 out of a possible three.
The report which was unveiled during the week in Abuja places Nigeria far behind countries that have met targets to reduce child deaths-Ethiopia, Liberia, Tanzania, Nepal, Malawi and Bangladesh. The report focused on efforts by stakeholders between 2000 and 2012 in curtailing infant maternal mortality. It looked at deaths among children under age five dropped from 188 per 1,000 to 124-a change of nearly 34 percent, but up to 32 percent of occurring deaths are still among newborns, the report observed.
Speaking at the launch of the report, Assistant Director for Child Survival, Ministry of Health, Abuja, Tinu Taylor, observed that "Importantly, we have a big chunk of these deaths in newborns, What is killing these newborns are also preventable causes-birth related injuries, complications in pre-term birth. These gaps are still there because we have not been addressing these issues properly,"
The report pointed out that percentage of children receiving treatment for diarrhoea and rate of exclusive breastfeeding have both fallen. Taylor was among panelists at a forum to mark Global Day of Action, including renowned social media expert Blossom Nordin and Ademola Olajide, a health director at the African Union Commission, who spoke from Ethiopia via video conference.
The proportion of population with access to improved sanitation dropped from 35 percent to 30 percent over an 11-year period and measures of equity still show wide gaps in wealth, gender and geography, the report said.
The report notes that children born poor are two-and-a-half times more likely to die before the age of five than a child born in the wealthiest 20 percent of the population.
In addition, a child born in a rural area is 60percent more likely to die before age five than a child born in an urban area, and girls have a higher likelihood than boys of dying before age five.
Programme Advisor of Save the Children, Dr. David Olayemi, stressed that the report clearly show us that the issue of equity has not been addressed at all in this part of the world. "The rural poor, even in urban areas, people who are not educated are still where they were. People who are vulnerable are being left behind and therefore our percentage has continued to relatively increase when we compare it to other parwts of the world," he said.