The Partnership For Advocacy in Child and Family Health (PACFaH) says no fewer than 800,000 children under the age of five are dying in Nigeria annually.
Dr Remi Adeseun, the Project Director, Strategy, for the Pharmaceutica* Society of Nigeria (PSN)-PACFaH, made the disclosure this on Tuesday in Abuja.
According to him, the major causes of under-five deaths include childhood pneumonia and diarrhoea.
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Adeseun, who based the figure on the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) ranking of health system, as well as, the 2013 National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), said the nation’s health status was low.
The director said that the major determinants or indicators of a nation’s health status were under- five and maternal mortality rates.
Adeseun explained that based on the 2013 NDHS report; there had been little reduction in the under-five and maternal mortality rate.
He said that in the area of under-five mortality rate, there was little reduction from 154 in 2008 to the current 128 per 1,000 live births.
According to him, the adoption of best practice as recommended by WHO is the surest way to reduce this burden to the barest minimum.
He said that the standard practices included the adoption of Amoxicillin dispersible tablet as a first line treatment for childhood pneumonia and Zinc ORS (Oral Rehydration Solution or Therapy) for diarrhoea.
“The overall status of health of Nigerians as measured by WHO ranking of health systems is poor.
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“When we say it is poor, it is because the major indicators, which are the determinant of the health status of the people, are in the area of child health.
“As at 2013, for every 1,000 children born, 128 of them are likely to die before the age of five; this means that one in every eight children born will not live to see their fifth birthday.
“To further demonstrate how significant it is in terms of number of lives lost, it translates to the fact that 800,000 children under the age of five die in Nigeria every year.
“To visualise this number is to look at our biggest stadium, which probably contains about 60,000 people at maximum capacity.’’
Adeseun also condemned the country’s maternal mortality rate of 550 per 100,000 live births.
According to him, the figure is shocking and can be avoided through the implementation of policies and adequate funding.
“It should never be the case that a woman dies simply from under-going a natural process of child birth, which is one of the biggest killers of maternal mortality.
“It is in this regard that poor health outcomes facing the child and the mother in particular reflect the poor status of health of Nigeria,’’ Adeseun said.
He urged government at all levels to adopt proven effective intervention policies to improve the health status of the people.