The Bayelsa State Government on Friday said the death of 3,500 babies out of 64,000 deliveries in first month of life from preventable causes was worrisome and unacceptable.
The Commissioner for Health, Dr. Pabara Igwele, stated this in Yenagoa during the ministry’s launch of Every Newborn Action Plan in collaboration with the United Nations Children Emergency Fund.
Igwele, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Inodu Apoku, said about 3,500 newborns died in their first month of life in the state from preventable causes
He noted that it was one of the highest in the South South region.
He said: “In 2008 for instance, Bayelsa State had 64,000 babies delivered, out of which 3,500 died in their first month of life.
“At the time, Bayelsa had the highest under-5 mortality rate in the South South of the country with 95 deaths per 1,000 live births.
“At present, when compared with the 2011 records, there has been a marked improvement on the number of under-5 mortality.
“In spite of this, the decline in newborn mortality rate has been considerably low as newborn deaths still account for 31 per cent of the total child mortality.
“The percentage of deaths is becoming very embarrassing and in the South South.
“Bayelsa state is the worst and they die from preventable causes.”
The Commissioner said the call to action, which made available a framework for the development of the Nigerian Every Newborn Action Plan, provided the platform for situational analysis into newborn health in the state.
Igwele said the launch of ENAP would be the action plan to mitigate the causes that are responsible for the deaths of children when they are born.
He called on all critical stakeholders, partners, civil society organisations and private sector to work with government at all levels in implementing the plan.
“All hands must be on deck to ensure that newborns in the state not only breath at birth, but survive and thrive to reach their full potential in life,” he said.
In her contribution, wife of the Bayelsa State Governor, Dr. Gloria Diri, said the well-being of the mother and child was key in realising safe care before, during pregnancy and after delivery.
Diri advised that all necessary means be employed to provide the enabling environment for the rendering of health care services.
She said the neonatal period (first 28 days of life) was the crucial period for child survival, noting that the period carry the highest risk of deaths per day than any other time during childhood.
She equally said the first month of life was a fundamental period for lifelong health and development, adding that healthy babies grow into healthy adults who could thrive and contribute to their communities and society.
She said: “Labour, birth and immediate postnatal period are the most critical for newborn and maternal survival.
“And 75 per cent of newborn deaths can be prevented with known, effective health measures provided at birth and during the first week of life.
“That is why as a state, we are very happy to have programme such as this where the quality of neonates are prioritised.”
UNICEF Health Specialist, Rivers Field Office, Dr. Eghe Abe, said that while under-5 deaths had continued to reduce, the rate of decrease of newborn deaths had somewhat flattened and remained the same.
Abe said if the state and the country wished to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, there was the need to do things differently to reduce the newborn death rate.
He said that UNICEF wholeheartedly supported the development of the plan and that if the plan was fully implemented, every newborn would not only survive but thrive and develop to its full potential.