By Chioma Obinna
Despite the global efforts to end preventable newborn deaths by 2030, through the Sustainable Development Goal 3.2, experts have raised the alarm that Nigeria loses over 250,000 babies yearly due to preventable and treatable causes, even as the country ranks second highest globally in infant deaths.
According to a Professor of Paediatrics at the College of Medicine University of Lagos, and Clinical Lead, Newborn Essential Solution and Technologies, NEST360, Professor Chinyere Ezeaka, with current slow progress, it may take Nigerian 100 years to meet the goal.
Ezeaka identified causes of newborn deaths in Nigeria to include prematurity, infections, birth asphyxia, congenital abnormalities among others, she said these would be reduced with the wide-scale adoption of comprehensive newborn care, a standard of care available in the United States and the United Kingdom.
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Ezeaka, who spoke during the NEST360 launch of donated equipment to Pilot health facilitates in Nigeria, said to change the narrative, the country needs life-saving technologies, equipment and trained staff to manage preterm babies and newborn in distress.
The Country Director, NEST360, Dr. Opeyemi Odedere, said they were working with Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Health to equip neonatal units in Nigerian hospitals with basic essential equipment that would be used for the proper management of newborns.
Odedere said beyond the donation, they are training health workers, clinicians and biomedical engineers to be able to use and repair the equipment.
He listed some of the equipment donated to include; oxygen concentrators, Suction pump, and phototherapy light among others.
Odedere explained that NEST360 is an evidence-based model for sustainable health systems to close gaps in technology, innovation, human resources, capacity building and sustainable markets for implementation of quality hospital-based newborn care at the national scale.
In his views, the Chief Medical Director, LUTH, Professor Chris Bode, said the donations would save newborns, premature babies who might have perished from the lack of life-saving equipment, adding that LUTH was glad to have been chosen as one of the pilot sites. “We also encourage donors to spread it across the country.”
The Deputy Chairman, Clinical Advisory Committee, CMAC, University of Ibadan, UCH, Dr Victor Makojola said the NEST360 project would go a long way in reducing infant mortality and newborns, especially, now more babies are delivered in the hospitals.
His words: “It will ensure that these babies have access to human resources and life-saving technologies that will ensure that they survive childhood. And eventually into adulthood.
“The deaths that are being addressed is for those having complications and conditions at birth and premature. It will help to provide them with appropriate care to survive this critical time of their lives and grow into normal children.
“If they don’t have these services even if they survive, they will not have a normal life because they would have lacked important things and this is why the intervention is important.”