UNICEF Nigeria launches the State of Africa's Children report 2008
Abuja/Nigeria/July 15, 2008 - UNICEF Nigeria Country office in collaboration with the Federal Ministries of Health and Women’s Affairs and Social Development today launched the 2008 State of Africa’s Children Report with a call to unite for child survival in Nigeria.
The launch notes that Child survival is central to Nigeria meeting the Millennium Development Goals because six of the goals have targets that relate directly to children’s health. This first ever State of Africa’s Children Report launch, took place at the United Nations House Abuja, Nigeria.
The State of Africa’s Children Report 2008 is the Africa regional variant of UNICEF’s annual flagship publication, the State of the World’s Children Report. The report was launched by the Honourable Minister of Women’s Affairs and Social Development, Hajia Saudatu Bungudu with the representative of the Honourable Minister of Health Dr. Hassan Muhammad Lawal as Chairman, the UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Alberic Kacou represented by Dr. Peter Eriki, the WHO Representative in Nigeria and the UNICEF Representative, ai, Dr. Robert Limlim in attendance.
The reports note that greater progress on child survival requires the achievement of all the health-related MDGs. These are MDG 1: Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, MDG 4: Reduce child mortality, MDG 5: Improve maternal health, MDG 6: Combat HIV and AIDS, malaria and other major diseases and MDG 7: Ensure environmental sustainability including access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation.
According to the State of Africa’s Children Report, Sub-Saharan Africa faces the greatest crisis of child mortality as about 50 per cent of child deaths in the world happen in the region. Children die of pneumonia, malaria and AIDS, from various childhood diseases such as measles, as well as from causes, including diarrhoea, related to a lack of clean water and sanitation. Under nutrition contributes up to half of all under-five deaths. “Nigeria accounts for 50% of child deaths in the region. This figure can be reduced if the accelerated child survival and development strategy and recently adopted integrated maternal new born and child health policy is vigorously implemented”, said Dr. Robert Limlim, UNICEF Representative, ai.
The Minister of Women’s Affairs and Social development who launched the report urged that the statistics in the report, while being instructive should however serve as a barometer by which Nigeria measures progress and efforts towards the attainment of the MDGs within the agreed time frame. She pointed out that “more recent data from the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2007 show that efforts being made by government and its local and international partners are beginning to yield fruit. For instance infant mortality reduced from 110 in 2005 to 86 per 1000 live births in 2007, while under-five mortality rate dropped from 197 to 138 over the same period” She cautioned though that more work needed to be done to achieve levels of reduction targets set out in the MDGs.
The report shows that although under-five mortality rates have reduced by 14 per cent since 1990, still at 160 deaths per 1000 live births, the region has by far the highest under-five mortality rates in the world. Equally, at the annual rate of reduction of just 1 per cent between 1990 and 2006, Sub Saharan Africa is not on track to achieving the MDGs because a reduction rate of 4- plus per cent is required to keep countries on track.
Children’s lives could be saved by low-cost prevention and treatment interventions like vitamin A supplements and breastfeeding for infants up to 6 months of age, sleeping under nets treated with insecticide, safe drinking water and basic sanitation and immunizations. The integrated maternal, newborn and child health strategy (IMNCH) which encompasses the Accelerated Child Survival and Development (ACSD) initiative promotes selection of these low cost and high impact intervention packages like strengthening routine immunization, Vitamin A supplementation, exclusive breastfeeding, Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT) and the use of Insecticide Treated Nets (ITNs) to enable Nigeria attain the health MDGs if all the states in the federation implement it.
“There are resources, both human and capital in Nigeria to reduce child deaths and achieve the health MDGs for children. Let us pool together as a community and do it for children. Let us unite for children”, said Dr. Robert Limlim, UNICEF Representative, ai.