Nigeria is one of the greatest contributors to neonatal mortality and morbidity worldwide.Neonatal mortality rate is the number of neonatal deaths per 1000 live births. The neonatal period, the first 28 days of life is the most vulnerable time for a child’s survival. However, neonatal death which is death during the first 28 days of life accounts for a huge proportion of child deaths.
According to UNICEF in 2017, children face the highest risk of dying in their first month of life at an average global rate of 18 deaths per 1000 live births. In 2017, the neonatal mortality rate for Nigeria was 33 deaths per 1000 live births placing the nation in the 11th position on UNICEF’s global newborn deaths ranking. The leading causes of neonatal deaths in Nigeria include preterm birth complications (31%), intrapartum-related deaths (32%), sepsis or tetanus (16%), congenital abnormalities (7%), pneumonia (8%), diarrhoea (1%) and other conditions (7%).
Neonatal mortality rate in Nigeria has gradually decreased from 69.3 deaths per 1000 live births in 1968 to 33 deaths per 1000 live births in 2017. This rate is still above the global average which shows that despite interventions such as comprehensive antenatal and postnatal care, neonatal mortality rate still remains high in Nigeria. What could be the cause? Are there factors we are not currently considering? What specific interventions should we be interested in as a nation?