With improved nutrition, including proper breastfeeding practices, immunisation and health delivery system, experts have said that high infant and neo-natal deaths in the country would be curbed.
The experts, who spoke at a just concluded media dialogue in Ibadan, with the theme ‘Improving Health Outcomes for Children in Oyo State through Accelerated Action for Impact,’ noted that the method is yielding positive health outcomes among children Oyo state.
One of them, Dr Adebola Hassan, the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Health Specialist, Akure Field Office, said UNICEF was engaging in various intervention programmes to assist the state in minimising the high prevalence of death of newborns in the state.
She said due to poor nutrition, improper breastfeeding, lack of immunisation and poor delivery system, among others, many newborn children had lost their lives in the state.
Hassan said that Ibadan North-East, Ibarapa North and Saki West Local Government Areas were among the six Local Governments in the state with highest infant mortality and neo-natal death in the state.
She said with various interventions by UNICEF in partnership with the state government, the trend was changing.
During a field trip to Ibadan North-East Primary Healthcare Centre (PHC), medical personnel, pregnant women and community leaders commended UNICEF and state government for their various interventions in saving lives of newborns in the area.
Mrs Jolasinmi Adebola, the Chief Community Health Extension Worker, said that through various interventions such as counselling and awareness, the number of women who usually brings their children for immunisation had increased.
Adebola said due to intervention by UNICEF and state government, the number of women who usually bring their newborns for immunisation had increased from 56 on a monthly basis to 78.
She added that the number of women who practised exclusive breastfeeding had also increased from 103 to 189.
Adebola said all these intervention programmes had been having positive effects on minimising the number of newborn deaths in the council area.
Earlier, Mr. Ayobami Akinola, the Assistant Immunisation Coaching Officer for the LGA, said the number of newborns immunised on a monthly basis had increased from 1,701 to 1,926 due to health interventions.
Ayobami said women were being taught on proper immunisation, exclusive breastfeeding and post-natal services, among others.
He said ward development community were also established to disabuse the mind of people on negative belief on immunisation.
Ayobami said PHC had solar refrigerator and cold boxes to preserve the vaccines before distribution to other PHCs in the area.
He said all these interventions were having positive effects on reducing the death of newborns in the LGAs.
Contributing, Blessing Ejiofor, UNICEF’s Media Officer, solicited media support on accurate and informed report on preventable child death in Nigeria.
Ejiofor said that dialogue was meant to provide the media with the knowledge and materials to support informed media advocacy on preventable child death.
“Accelerated action impact initiative, as a game changer, to fast-track reduction of preventable child death in Nigeria,’’ she said.
Ejiofor said that the expected outcome of the programme was to see media producing, publishing and airing accurate and informed stories and reports on preventable child death.
The UNICEF’s Media Officer said the essence was to draw the government’s attention to the need to scale up action in order to reverse the ugly trend of death of newborn.
Also, Dr Khadijat Alarape, the Oyo State Nutrition Officer, said that lack of proper breastfeeding had led to the death of many newborns.
Alarape said that many mothers failed to breastfeed their children immediately after birth, which she said led to the death of many newborns in the state.
She said that rather than give breast milk to newborns, many mothers were involved in giving concoctions or herbs to their babies at birth.
Alarape said that some mothers, due to believe that their nipples would ‘sag’ if they breastfeed, had also neglected breastfeeding.
She urged mothers to ensure proper placement of their newborns’ mouth on the ‘areola,’ the dark portion of breast and not the nipples to enable the baby to suck properly.