Breastfeeding still ranks high among interventions that can reduce childhood deaths, a study published in Lancet Every Newborn Series has revealed. The study also notes that breastfeeding, neonatal resuscitation, kangaroo mother care and antenatal corticosteroids methods will prevent 375,000 maternal and newborn deaths by 2025. It adds that 1,540 babies die at birth in Nigeria. The report is coming as other studies from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, University of Washington show that Nigeria would not meet its 2015 health goals in reducing mother and child deaths. The IHME study released last week were part of its 2013 Global Burden of Disease project. It noted, “ In spite of the global gains recorded in the reduction of mother and child deaths, study findings from the IHME has listed Nigeria as one of the countries with the least progress in the reduction of child and maternal deaths .

“Ironically, the studies indicate a drastic global decline in the number of under five deaths, stressing the child survival rate has improved and the number of under five deaths has shrunk drastically globally.”

Besides, the study notes that 90 per cent of countries in sub-Saharan Africa have experienced a reduction in child death rates since year 2000. They include Congo, Ethiopia, Liberia, Mozambique, Niger, Guinea and Rwanda. Others are South Africa, Senegal, Zambia, Burundi, Benin, Burkina Faso and Sao Tome and Principe.

One of the authors of the study, Orish Ebere Osakwe, says while the number of maternal deaths in Nigeria last year was 36,698, the number of child deaths for the same year was 892,600.

In an interview with our correspondent, Osakwe, a professor of Pharmacology and Toxicology child, Department of Clinical Pharmacy, University of Port Harcourt, Port Harcourt, says it is important to scale up intervention to prevent maternal and child deaths in Nigeria.

She says, “While there has been a lot of progress globally in the area of maternal and child deaths, it is not the same with Nigeria. We need to deploy proven interventions in rural areas for us to meet with the rest of the world. If the political will is available, it can still be done.”

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