A Professor of Pediatrics at Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU), Ago-Iwoye, Tinuade Adetutu Ogunlesi, says at least 750 newborn deaths are recorded daily in Nigeria.
Ogunlesi particularly hinted that about 275,000 babies die within the first 28 days of life annually in Nigeria.
This, he pointed out, translates to 31 newborn deaths per hour.
Ogunlesi, who disclosed this while delivering the 97th OOU Inaugural Lecture at the Otunba Gbenga Daniel Lecture Theatre, Main Campus, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, described the neonatal mortality as “gruesome and sad reality.”
The Lecture entitled, “Ikunle-Abiyamo (Childbirth) and the Twenty-Eight-Day Journey: The Chances and the Choices,” was presided over by the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Professor Ganiyu Olatunji Olatunde.
The pediatrician explained that lack of adequate funding remains the bane of efficient perinatal and neonatal care service in Nigeria.
According to the inaugural lecturer, the primary health care system in Nigeria does not function optimally and there is need to address the problem towards stopping needless preventable deaths of infants.
He said, “The current crude birth rate of 38/1000 in Nigeria translates to roughly 7.6 million live births yearly. With the current neonatal mortality rate of 36/1000 live births in Nigeria, close to 275,000 babies die within the first twenty-eight days of life every year. These deaths translate to about 750 neonatal deaths per day all over the country!
“If we assume an average plane transports about 150 passengers per flight, 750 neonatal deaths per day may translate to about five air crashes every day! These 750 newborn deaths per day translate to 31 newborn deaths per hour, meaning that a baby dies every other minute in Nigeria. Gruesome as this picture appears, it is our sad reality.”
He called for increased funding of Nigeria’s health sector to make its primary health care system function optimally and curb the growing mortality rate of newborn babies and under-five children in the country.
Ogunlesi, who is also a neonatal medicine physician at the Olabisi Onabanjo University Teaching Hospital (OOUTH), Sagamu, asked state governments to judiciously invest in the establishment of neonatal intensive care units to improve access to advanced facilities instead of expending funds on bullet-proof vehicles for politicians and political office holders.
The scholar recommended the expansion of the scope of the existing National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) in the country to include newborn care.
He also urged experts in sociology, insurance and public sector economy to assist with developing appropriate community-based insurance models for the nation’s health sector.