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Nigeria leads newborn death rates in Africa —Expert

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A pediatrician, Dr Adejumoke Ayede, has said that the many challenges newborns face from doctors, the hostile environment and poor facilities for their care accounts for Nigeria’s leading position in newborn death rates in Africa and its second place globally, after India.

Dr Ayede, a neonatologist, spoke at the commissioning of the Centre for African Newborn Health and Nutrition (CANHENT) building at the University College Hospital, Ibadan. The centre is to work in partnership with UCH, Ibadan.

Ayede, CANHENT’s founding director, said over 70 per cent of these deaths were due to prematurity, birth asphyxia, infections and neonatal jaundice, even though these were preventable.

Despite the Federal Government putting newborn health on its agenda, she said there is still dearth of health personnel and simple equipment to care for newborn babies in Nigerian hospitals.

Dr Ayede declared: “Many health personnel do not like management of newborns, particularly premature babies. They feel that they are fragile; and unlike adults, their care cannot pay off because a lot of money will be required to take care of them.

“Our passion to save newborns from dying led to CANHENT, which started in 2011 and is looking for ways to solve newborn deaths in Nigeria and by extension Africa.”

Dr Ayede said the centre was establishing four new programmes, including newborn screening, transformational research, capacity building and development of simple technologies, as part of its efforts to improve newborn health in Africa.

UCH’s Chief Medical Director, Professor Temitope Alonge, said some newborn deaths were an aftermath of mothers that were poorly fed who ended up with malnourished babies.

Professor Alonge, however, declared that by incorporating folic acid into basic food items like garri and yam, this will ensure that women of child bearing ages stand a lower risk of giving birth to babies with some birth defects.

He said, the hospital’s programme that screens newborn babies for deafness is to be extended to the community to ensure such defects are detected early and prevented from affecting these children’s academic development later in life.

Director, Child Health Unit, Federal Ministry of Health, Dr Bose Adeniran, assured that the Federal Government and other health institutions are already working to ensure newborns are no longer neglected in the country.

She stated that the centre would help to reposition newborn health in Nigeria, adding, “we need research; it is key to policy formulation.  This centre will certainly support their survival, care and ensure they reach their full potentials.”

The post Nigeria leads newborn death rates in Africa —Expert appeared first on Tribune Online.

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