Nigeria: Delta Launches Action Plan Against Newborn Deaths

18 November 2019

Asaba — Nigerian Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, has urged the Delta State Government to fully implement the state 'Every Newborn Action Plan' (DSENAP) designed to address the critical problem of neonatal mortality, which was launched weekend in Asaba.

The neonatal action-plan was launched by the Delta State Primary Healthcare Development Agency (DSPHDA) in collaboration with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF).

Ehanire, who was represented by a Director at the Federal Ministry of Health, Dr. Bose Adeniran, charged the state to mobilise adequate resources to implement the action plan if newly born babies are to survive and reach their full potential for the country.

While listing strategies towards the effective implementation of the document, the minister stressed the need for adequate capacity building especially for the critical segment of the workforce at the primary, secondary and tertiary levels of healthcare system.

Ehanire said it was gratifying that the save-the-newborn action plan was being launched by Delta, the second state to so do in the country, few days after Rivers State, in a bid to domesticate the national action plan launched on November 17, 2017, by the federal government.

Secretary to the Delta State Government (SSG), Mr. Chiedu Ebie, while unveiling the DSENAP, decried the relatively high rate of women and children mortality in the country, saying the launch was a testimony to the commitment of the Governor Ifeanyi Okowa administration to addressing the tragic and nagging health challenge.

Without copious reference to the statistical indices from international and local authorities, Ebie said it was worrisome that "each year, 289,000 women die while giving birth; an estimated 18,000 children die everyday from preventable diseases and similar circumstances, and 2.9 million newborns die during their first 28 days of life."

The SSG noted that "the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF launched the 'Every Newborn Action Plan' in 2014 to provide a roadmap of strategic actions to end preventable newborn mortality, stillbirth and reduce maternal mortality."

Health Specialist in UNICEF Rivers State Field Office, Dr. Eghe Abe, on his part, explained that the action-plan document would state in clear terms how Delta State plans to cater for the newborns.

Abe, who also presented a goodwill message from UNICEF Chief of Field, Rivers State, Dr. Guy M.M. Yogo, commended Delta State for the initiative to reduce the unacceptably high levels of neonatal deaths, saying concrete and new steps must be taken if the desired result would be achieved in line with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) declared by the United Nations.

According to him, "It would interest all of us to note that while the under 5 mortality has continued to reduce, the rate of decrease of newborn deaths has somewhat plateaued. Therefore, for the state and country to achieve the SDGs, it needs to do things differently if the neonatal mortality rate is to reduce.

"It is in the light of this that UNICEF wholeheartedly supported the development of this plan. If the plan is fully implemented, it is believed that every newborn would not only survive but would thrive and develop to its full potential.

"As we are all aware, there are emerging and strong evidence that progress towards achieving the SDGs by 2030 will only be made if we identify the greatest health disparities and reduce them.

"UNICEF will continue to support the government of Delta State in its effort to addressing disparities and inequalities in health outcomes among the most marginalised people."

Earlier in his goodwill message, the Executive Director of National Primary Health Care Development Agency, Dr. Faisal Shuaib, represented by a director at the agency, Dr. Utibe Abasi Arua, while commending the initiative of the Delta State Government, painted a gloomy picture of neonatal deaths globally and Nigeria in particular.

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