A research published in ‘Nature’, a journal and conducted by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the College of Medicine, University of Washington, has shown that, at least, 789,037 children below the age of five died in Nigeria in 2017.
The study also shows that the highest mortality rate in 2017 at the level of local government areas was 195.1 in Garki, Abuja, while the lowest was 52.0 in Egor, Edo State.
Although the research suggests the number of under five deaths was still high in the country, it noted that 19 years ago, the number was much higher at 1,011,620 deaths.
According to the study, the likelihood of a child reaching age five varies nearly four-fold among local government areas in Nigeria.
The findings read in part: “Neonatal disorders are the biggest causes of deaths before age five in both 2000 and 2017. Decreases in deaths from diarrhea and lower respiratory infections accounted for 40 per cent of the overall drop in child deaths over the study period.”
The study is the first of its kind, mapping child deaths in 99 low- and middle-income countries at the level of individual districts.
The Lead Researcher, and Director of the Local Burden of Disease (LBD), IHME, Dr Simon Hay said: “It is as reprehensible as it is tragic that, on average, nearly 15,000 children under age five die every day. Why are some areas doing so well, while others struggle?
“In order to make progress, we need to enable precise targeting of interventions, such as vaccines. Our findings provide a platform for nations’ health ministers, clinicians, and others to make focused improvements in health systems.”
The findings include precision maps illuminating health disparities within countries and regions often obscured by national-level analyses. An interactive visualisation accompanying the research compares child death rates from year to year.
The research looks at countries where more than 90 per cent of child deaths occurred in 2017. Mortality rates varied as much as 10-fold between districts within a country. The research also shows that across all countries studied, the likelihood of a child dying before age five varied more than 40-fold at the district level.
The study, funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, reveals areas of success where strategies could be replicated across and within countries, according to Hay.
Researchers estimated that if every district in the low- and middle-income countries studied had met the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target of at least as low as 25 child deaths per 1,000 live births, 2.6 million fewer children would have died.