Nigeria has the world’s second highest number of deaths in children under five, losing around 2,700 every day from a ratio of 120 per 1,000 in 2016, although it has declined since 2003 down from more than 200 per 1,000. Only one out of three babies is delivered in a health facility. The poorest among Nigeria’s population continue to be most in peril, whatever their age. While there have been drops of 31 per cent and 26 per cent in under-five and infant mortality rates, respectively, over the last 15 years, the decline in deaths of newborns over the same period is just 20 per cent highlighting an urgent need to scale up interventions targeting the youngest in the country.
The uptake of routine immunization remains poor and full immunization coverage has failed to gain traction as only one in four children are fully vaccinated. The situation for rural children causes greatest concern – only 16 per cent are fully immunized, compared to 40 per cent of children in urban areas. Measles vaccination coverage has now fallen below 50 per cent. Despite making significant progress in the eradication of polio, which led to Nigeria being declared polio-free in 2015, insurgency in the northeast and the resultant insecurity is beginning to reverse these gains: four new cases of wild poliovirus (WPV) re-emerged in Borno State in August 2016.