It is said that children are the ‘leaders of tomorrow’; what happens if tomorrow ‘leaders’ are too few or are in short supply to meet the demands placed on them by the nation? Then the nation suffers.
It is of utmost importance then that these ‘future leaders’ are given a fair chance of survival; a chance to become an asset to their nation, just like their counterparts in higher income countries.
That fair chance starts the moment they are born.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 4 and 5 aimed to reduce the under five mortality ratio and maternal mortality ratio, by two-thirds and three quarters (75%), respectively between 1990 and 2015.
67 countries cut their under-five mortality ratio by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. 28 of them are low or lower-middle income countries showing that reduction in child mortality rates are possible even in resource-constrained settings.
With the end of the MDG era, the International community agreed on a new framework – the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): targeted, amongst other things, to end preventable deaths of newborns and children under five years of age by 2030:
- To reduce neonatal mortality rate to as low as 12 deaths per 2,000 live births.
- To reduce under five mortality rate to as low as 25 deaths per 1,000 live births.
SDG 3.1 – to reduce global maternal mortality ratio to less than 70 deaths per 100,000 live births
SDG 2.2 – ending all forms of malnutrition
Regarding SDGs, member states need to set their own targets, develop specific strategies to reduce child mortality and monitor their progress towards the reduction.
Efforts made by international organizations like UNICEF, WHO are great but we believe partnerships with local organizations will bring about more success. We have seen international partnerships with State and Local governments and the positive effects it has had on the communities. It is our desire to someday be a benefactor of such partnerships to reduce child mortality rate in Lagos State and Nigeria as a whole.
Child mortality is also known as under five mortality or child death; It refers to the death of children under the age of 5 or between the ages of one month to four years.
Child mortality rate refers to the number of children who die by the age of five, per 1000 live births.
According to World Health Organization (WHO):
- 6 million Children under the age of 5 years died in 2016. This translates into 15 000 under-five deaths per day
- More than half of these early child deaths are due to conditions that could be prevented or treated with access to simple, affordable interventions
- Leading causes of death in children under-5 years are preterm birth complications, pneumonia, birth asphyxia, diarrhea and malaria
- Children in sub-Saharan Africa are more than 15 times more likely to die before the age of 5 than children in high income countries
- The United Nations Children’s Fund lists Nigeria among the top countries contributing to number of children (250 million) under age five who are at risk of not reaching their potential in life
- Nigeria has the third highest infant mortality rate in the world according to WHO statistical data.
- In 2016, 30% of new born deaths were caused by preterm birth complications and complications during labor or child birth.
STRATEGIES USED IN COUNTRIES THAT MET MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS (MDGs)
The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) 4 and 5 aimed to reduce the under five mortality ratio and maternal mortality ratio, by two-thirds and three quarters (75%), respectively between 1990 and 2015
Rwanda, Malawi and Madagascar are among the top ten countries that met these goals and witnessed a significant decline from 1990 – 2011. The rates decreased by 65.4%, 63.6%, and 61.8% respectively.
The strategies used in Malawi include vaccines, handing out Hygiene Kits at ante-natal checkups, training and equipping Health Surveillance Assistants to administer medicines and treat pneumonia, diarrhea and other common illnesses.
The country realized that child survival is connected to good hygiene practices. Thus awareness and efforts to improve sanitation were made including the provision of safe drinking water.
Newer vaccines were introduced as part of the regular routine to help curb the child mortality rate. Vaccines like the Rotavirus and Pneumococcal bacteria (which can cause Pneumonia, Meningitis and other diseases).
Their strategy also included raising awareness and educating women on the importance of exclusive breastfeeding.
The Kangaroo Mother Care method used in hospitals contributed to the under five mortality rate decline in Malawi.