778 babies die daily in Nigeria â" UNICEF â¢
Victor Sam, Abuja
A BOUT 778 newborn babies die daily in Nigeria, the 2009 United Nations Children Fund State of the Worldâs Children report has said.
According to the UNICEF report, âFor every woman who dies of maternal causes, at least six newborns die and a further four babies are stillborn.â About 284,000 newborns die every year in Nigeria. That is 778 deaths each day.â The report also showed that about 5.9 million babies were born every year in Nigeria with about one million of them dying before they reach five years.
It also stated that every 10 minutes, a woman died in Nigeria from pregnancy and childbirth complications, while a newborn child died every three minutes.
Based on the data, it ranked Nigeria as the country of the second highest number with maternal deaths after the Democratic Republic of Congo.
However, the Minister of Information and Communications, Prof Dora Akunyili, contested the data issued by UNICEF saying that , with successes recorded in universal salt iodisation, Vitamin A fortification, and exclusive breast feeding, Nigeria could not be ranked as one of the worst contributors of child deaths worldwide.
The UNICEF report, which measured the well-being of children within their first 28 days and mothers during pregnancy and childbirth, was launched on Monday in Abuja by the wife of the President, Hajia Umaru Yar'Adua.
According to the report, data from the country remained significantly stagnant despite the scaling up of resources by the government and international donors.
It said, âIt is estimated that one Nigerian woman dies every 10 minutes due to complications of pregnancy and childbirth, while over 500 newborns die daily. That is one newborn death in less than three minutes.
âNigeria ranks second with highest number of maternal deaths in the world after the Democratic Republic of Congo. About 47,000 maternal deaths occur each year.â But, Akunyili, said she was surprised that the 2009 figures on maternal and infant deaths given by the UN agency were the same given since 2004.
She said, âThis same figure has been presented to us for years now. I want to ask, are we making progress or declining because the figures are the same every year despite governmentâs interventions.â