Saving Newborn Lives in Nigeria: Newborn Health in the Context of the Integrated Maternal, Newborn and Child Health Strategy

12 January 2011
A Nigerian government report on newborn health showcased the power of Countdown data and methods for catalyzing action…

12 January 2011

By Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria

2011nigeria-reportABUJA, NIGERIA – New data shows that as the death toll in Nigeria is falling, the percentage of deaths that happen in the first month of life is increasing. Newborn deaths now make up 28% of all deaths under five years compared to 24% two years ago. Six out of 10 mothers give birth at home without access to skilled care during childbirth and it is in the first few days of life when both women and newborns are most at risk.

Every year 241,000 babies die in the first month of life in Nigeria making it the African country with the highest newborn death toll, a new Ministry of Health report, Saving Newborn Lives in Nigeria, has revealed today.

The report calls for an increased focus on reducing newborn deaths, the vast majority of which are avoidable. It says thousands of newborn lives can be saved via simple methods, such as teaching mothers about danger signs, encouraging them to seek help early and making sure there is enough medicine and enough healthcare workers at community health centres. The policies are mostly in place and the cost is affordable so now priority must be given to implementing these policies and making sure all families receive essential care.

 The report, unveiled on 13 January at the 42nd annual Paediatric Association of Nigeria Conference, includes up-to-date child and maternal health profiles for each of the 36 states in Nigeria, as well as national data in order to make local decision making more effective.

Mickey Chopra, UNICEF Chief of Health and the global Countdown to 2015 for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health co-chair says from New York, “We applaud Nigeria for this report focusing on state level data and critical coverage, equity and quality gaps. We call on the technical and political leaders in Nigeria to use this data to set evidence-based priorities, invest in implementation and be accountable for change, especially for the poorest families.”

In 2009,  the first edition of Saving Newborn Lives in Nigeria: Situation Analysis and Action Plan for Newborn Health was produced in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of newborn survival and health in Nigeria, to analyse the relevant data by state and to present concrete steps to accelerate action to save newborn lives in Nigeria in the context of the Integrated Maternal, Newborn and Child Health (IMNCH) strategy.

This second edition of the report includes updated national and state-level data profiles in line with the global Countdown to 2015 for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health process; a new chapter on maternal, newborn and child nutrition; updated recommendations; and a renewed call to action, including letters of commitment from key stakeholders in maternal, newborn and child health in Nigeria. 

Contributing Partners: Save the Children. Maternal and Child Health Integrated Program (MCHIP) , JhpiegoU.S. Agency for International Development

Other Contributing Organizations: Federal Ministry of Health, Nigeria, World Health Organization; UNFPA; UNICEF; PRINN-MNCH; Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN);