By Segun Awofadeji in Bauchi
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Bauchi State Government have expressed their commitment in reducing the infant mortality rate in the state.
Mr Bahnu Pathak, UNICEF Nigeria, Bauchi Field Office Chief stated this at during a two day stakeholders engagement meeting for situation analysis on infant heath in Bauchi on Thursday.
He said Unicef and Bauchi state with the support of European Union (EU) reaffirmed their commitment to tackle the infant death in the state.
“Bauchi state Government has made significant progress in fighting deaths for children below five years; we want to joined hands and support the state in fighting the newborn deaths.
The UNICEF boss who admitted that there are still some challenges that need to be resolved, said that “we all need to commit to giving every child a fair chance at the start of life. It’s both the right and the smart thing to do,” he stressed.
“Let us all come together as partners and make a preventable newborn deaths a thing of the past,” Mr. Pathak Said
Also speaking, Mr. Oluseyi Olusunde, UNICEF Health officer, Bauchi, stressed that newborn deaths is alarming in the state, this he insisted, calls for action.
“Out of every 1000 newborn, 161 are likely to die before their fifth birthday in Bauchi this is far above SDG target. For our newborn presently, we have about 11,455 deaths of newborns every year in Bauchi , therefore Bauchi is number five in Nigeria in terms of newborn deaths,” he said.
According to him, that is why the state government inaugurated a committee called Bauchi State Every Newborn Action Committee (BASENAC) in line with the five point agenda of the state government to fast track implementation of policies that prevents newborn deaths.
“To ensure that maternal, newborn and child health along the continuum of care are included as a key priority in the outcome document to be produced by the stakeholders of the Committee”, adding that “with the Partnership of UNICEF/EU and the state government, we will reduce drastically the newborn deaths in the state,” Mr Olusunde said.
Also speaking, the Chairman BASENAC, Dr Robinson Yusuf, said the concept of the meeting was to sensitize stakeholders on the bottleneck gaps identified as the cause of newborn deaths in the state.
“That is now a target in the SDGs for Goal Three – ‘Ensure healthy lives and promote well being for all at all ages.’ Investing in newborn and child survival and the most disadvantaged is not only the right thing to do – it’s the smart thing to do,” he said.
Dr Yusuf said the committee would subsequently come up with strategies and plan that will address the issues surrounding newborn deaths in the state.
“Such as access to well-trained midwives, along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact and good nutrition.
“Others includes commodities, new equipments, knowledge and lots of others,” Dr Yusuf said.
He however said the committee would come up with analysis, recommendations for a way forward that will provide monumental effort to improve the health status of mothers and newborns in the state.