Deaths The United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) has said the rate of newborn deaths per 1000 births is 55 in Kebbi State, higher than the national average of 37 deaths per 1000 births, in the country. This is according to Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey conducted by the Government of Nigeria in 2016/17. The agency said many newborn babies don’t survive their first months in Kebbi State as many of them die the very day they are born. More than 80 per cent of these deaths are due to prematurity, asphyxia, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis,” said Sanjana Bhardwaj, Chief of Health, UNICEF Nigeria. “Simple, affordable solutions exist, but they are often not reaching the children and mothers who need them most- those living in the most disadvantaged areas and enduring the harshest conditions,” she said. Ms Bhardwaj disclosed this at three-day training on essential newborn care with the state’s Ministry of Health, State Primary Health Care Development Agency, Nigerian Society for Neonatal Medicine (NISONM), UNICEF and partners on June 27. She explained that many of the newborn deaths can be prevented with access to well-trained midwives during antenatal and postnatal visits as well as delivery at a health facility, along with proven solutions like clean water, handwashing, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact, proper cord care, and good nutrition. UNICEF is proud to partner with the Kebbi State Government and stands firmly with it and the key stakeholders to ensure all girls and boys in Kebbi have a fair chance from the beginning of their lives,” said Ms Bhardwaj. She said the commitment by Kebbi State Government is critical as many babies born in the state do not survive their first month of life. The wife of the governor, Zainab Bagudu,launched the ‘Every Child ALIVE’ campaign to reaffirm the state’s commitment to end preventable newborn deaths and extend affordable, quality healthcare to every mother and child. This means keeping every child alive by recruiting, training, retaining and managing sufficient numbers of doctors, nurses and midwives with expertise in maternal and newborn care.

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Also, guaranteeing clean, functional health facilities equipped with water, soap and electricity, within the reach of every mother and baby. It also means making it a priority to provide every mother and baby with the life-saving drugs and equipment needed for a healthy start in life; and empowering adolescent girls, mothers and families to demand and receive quality care. The training is part of a series of newborn health related activities executed in Kebbi during the last week of June.

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