Infant and Under-five Mortality Rates: Nigeria Makes Progress
University of Ilorin
Nigeria has recorded her lowest infant mortality rate in seventeen years. According to the recently released Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS), the current mortality rate in Nigeria is 69.8 deaths per 1000 live births which is lower than that recorded in the 2011 MICS; it is in fact the lowest recorded since Nigeria returned to democratic rule in 1999.
Infant mortality is the death of a child before its first birthday anniversary while under-five mortality is the death of anyone below the age of five years. Together, both have witnessed 27% reduction in the last 6 years.
According to Dr. Terka Bitto of Federal Medical Centre, Makurdi, Benue State; the reduction in the rate of child mortality might be because of the “increase in health advocacy and female child education because a mother that is more health aware is most likely to take her children for immunization”. This suggests that if this improvement is to be celebrated, kudos must be given to both governmental and non-governmental organisations especially multinational ones like United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organisation (WHO).
Dr. Bitto stressed further that “In the northern part of the country, there are more initiatives currently going onto ensure mothers get optimal care”. He emphasized on the important effect of immunization as he recalled that there was a time that “even President Buhari was seen immunizing one of his grand children.”
There is no doubt that an infant mortality rate of 69.8 is still very high. It is far higher than that of South Africa (31.0); Ghana (35.2) or even Sierra Leone (68.4). This means that a lot of work still has to be done by governments and non-governmental organisations.
According to an officer of the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Commission (NSCDC) who preferred anonymity, government must do much more to improve on security. According to her, this will make it easier for health workers to access all the local areas to immunize children. This will ultimately further reduce infant mortality.
This position is buttressed by the fact that, according to UNICEF, 70% of child death is caused by “preventable or treatable infectious diseases such as malaria”. Vaccination is therefore a strong key to reduction in child mortality.
With improved security, better equipped health facilities and better motivated health workers, Nigeria can easily overtake her neighbors in the low rates of child mortality. The current reduction in the rate of child mortality is a strong motivation for all stakeholders to do more.
Maternal and child health, The children,UNICEF org, Nigeria.
Nike Adebowale, 2017, Nigeria infant mortality rate falls- UNICEF, Statistics Bureau, Premium Times.