NISONM vows to check infant mortality in Nigeria
The Nigerian Society of Neonatal Medicine, NISONM, has said that it will continue to research and explore effective means of checking the current high rate of infant mortality in the country.
The association said a situation where Nigeria loses over 240,000 babies in their first month of life annually was no longer acceptable.
Addressing the 10th annual and scientific conference of the association in Ibadan, Oyo State, the President of NISONM, Prof. Chinyere Ezeaka, stated that the colossal waste of newborns was a major challenge to both government and stakeholders in the health sector.
The theme for this year’s conference is “Imperatives in Neonatal Survival in Nigeria: The Current State”.
Ezeaka, who is an alumnus of the university Nigeria, Nsukka, disclosed that since inception, the body had committed technical skills, promoted quality newborn care and facilitated national and international collaborations to strengthen the implementation process of reducing neonatal morbidity and mortality in Nigeria.
According to her, “these momentous strides are supported by our strategic objectives and operational plan which hinge on advocacy, capacity building, social mobilization, dissemination of best practices approach, research, monitoring and evaluation.
She emphasized that NISONM’s vision was in line with the Nigerian Every Newborn Action Plan (NIENAP) “in which there is a Nigeria where there are no preventable newborn deaths or still births, where every pregnancy is wanted, every birth celebrated and women, babies, children survive and thrive to reach their full potentials”.
The NISONM boss stated that in line with their strategic initiatives, the establishment of partnerships was the way forward for newborn health in Nigeria, even as she appreciated the Federal Ministry of Health and all partners for their invaluable support in the struggle.
Apart from carrying out medical outreach programmes in two local government areas of Oyo State, as part of activities lined up for the event, Ezeaka, announced that the association also used the occasion to showcase their updated Pictorial NISONM Newborn Discharge Guide, to be used to give crucial health messages to mothers after every birth in Nigeria and help avert newborn deaths from undue delays.
She continued: “We also presented the NISONM Helping Babies Breathe Training Action Plan Chart, translated to Yoruba, Ibo and Hausa languages to aid in the crucial step down of these trainings to the communities where most of the newborns are delivered, and where most of them die, these translated training materials will have to be adapted and adopted by the federal Ministry of Health prior to dissemination nationwide.
To further make their campaign more aggressive and result orientated, the president also inaugurated the NISONM State Focal Persons to augment the activities of the zonal programme coordinators for the six geo-political zones of the country that were constituted last year during its 9th annual general meeting held in Enugu.
The consultant paediatrician called for an accelerated scale up of evidence based newborn care interventions in all states of the federation and stressed the need for the implementation of Nigeria’s conceptualized framework to address newborn issues at all levels of care in the communities.
In her keynote speech, wife of the former governor of Kwara State, Mrs. Toyin Ojora Saraki, said she had worked tirelessly for the past 13 years for the advancement of reproductive, maternal, newborn child and adolescent health and nutrition, not just in Nigeria but around the world.
Saraki, who is the founder and president of an NGO, The Wellbeing Foundation Africa, praised the Nigerian Society of Neonatal Medicine, NISONM, for its great work and leadership it has provided towards the improvement of care for mothers and newborns, especially at the time of birth.
She continued: “We were all, at one time, vulnerable newborns, soon after our birth, though, the circumstances surrounding our births may differ, the common thread that runs through all of us is the fact that a newborn signals the hope of a new life, desirous of the most effective care and protection possible”.
The former Kwara State first lady, however, lamented that due to poor healthcare facilities, low level of education by some mothers and poverty, Nigeria loses over 554,000 babies annually, out of seven million babies born every year.
Giving the breakdown, Mrs. Saraki, explained that while 240, 000 babies die in the first month of their birth, 314, 000 babies die before delivery (still births), pointing out that these shocking figures give sleepless nights.
She however, revealed that statistics show that mothers between the ages of 15-24 with low education, experienced higher neonatal deaths, in comparison to women who are more matured and educated, while women who live in rural communities record higher neonatal deaths than those in urban areas.
The conference attracted over 1,500 participants from different parts of the world, including professors Harrie Lafeber (Netherlands), Vinod Bhutani, (US) and Dr. Anne Schaafsma, (Netherlands), Dr. Hamish Graham (Australia), Dr. Ayede Ayede of Nigeria, as well as the former deputy Vice chancellor, University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus, Prof. Bede Ibe.