Of 176 countriesNigeriahas been ranked 169 worst place for a child to be born.
Internationally non-governmental organisation, Save the Children, stated this in its World’s Mother’s Report made available yesterday.
Its Country Director, Susan Grant, said the health of mothers determines how their babies would fare in life, adding that about 89,700 babies die the same day they are born in Nigeria.
She spoke during the launch of the report – tagged Surviving the first day – in Lagos.
Nigeria, she said, is rated 12th highest on babies who die on their first day across the world, which made it one of the riskiest places to be born and one of the countries with the most first-day deaths.
Grant said 12 per cent of under five deaths in the country take place on the day the child is born, adding that 34 per cent take place within the first month of birth.
“In Nigeria 14 out of 1,000 newborns die the same day they were born, which is higher than the regional average (12 per 1,000),” she said.
Grant said one million babies die on their first day, adding that all babies are at risk on the day they were born. “In every country, rich and poor alike, the day a child is born is by far the most dangerous single day of a child’s life,” she said.
The Democratic Republic of Congo is the world’s toughest place to raise children, the reports said.
Finland was named the best place to be a mother, with Sweden and Norway following in second and third places.
The charity compared factors such as maternal health, child mortality, education and income in 176 countries.
In India, over 300,000 babies die within 24 hours of being born, accounting for 29% of all newborn deaths worldwide, the report says.
The 10 bottom-ranked countries were all from sub-Saharan Africa, with one woman in 30 dying from pregnancy-related causes on average and one child in seven dying before his or her fifth birthday.
In DR Congo, war and poverty have left mothers malnourished and unsupported at the most vulnerable time of their lives.
The next worst countries listed were Somalia, Sierra Leone, Mali, Niger, Central African Republic, The Gambia, Nigeria, Chad and Ivory Coast.
In Democratic Republic of Congo, one in 30 women die from pregnancy-related causes, whereas in Finland it is one in 12,200
South Asia, which accounts for 24 per cent of the world’s population, recorded 40 per cent of the world’s newborn deaths
The charity identified lack of nutrition as key to high mother and infant mortality rates in sub-Saharan Africa, with 10-20 per cent of mothers underweight.
In contrast, the results showed that Finland as the best place to be a mother, with the risk of death through pregnancy one in 12,200 and Finnish children getting almost 17 years of formal education.
Sweden, Norway, Iceland and The Netherlands were also among the top 10, with the United States trailing at 30.
Surprisingly, the report found that the US has the highest death rate in newborns in the industrialised world, with 11,300 babies dying on the day they are born each year.
The charity attributed the trend party to the US’s large population, as well as the high number of babies born too early. The US has one of the highest preterm birth rates in the world at a rate of one in eight.
The report also found that mothers and babies die in greater numbers in South Asia than in any other region with an estimated 423,000 babies dying on the day they are born each year.
India also has more maternal deaths than in any other country with 56,000 per year.
“In India… economic growth has been impressive but the benefits have been shared unequally,” the report said.
On the way forward, Grant said there are low cost solutions to the problem such as application of chlorhexidine (CHX) gel to prevent infections.
Others are: prenatal corticosteriods, resuscitation device and injectable anti-biotics.
Dr Abimbola Williams, the Senior Maternal and Newborn Health Manager of the organisation, recommended the identification of underlying causes of maternal and child deaths, investment in health workers and technological solution as way forward.
The recommendation include: strengthening the health system and increase commitments and funding to save mother and child and passage and implementation of the National Health Bill (NHB).
She said there has been decrease in under – five mortality, stressing that this was not sufficient for the country to achieve the Millennium Development Goal (MDG), muted in 1990 to reduce child mortality rates by two-thirds by 2015. “An estimated 396,500 first-day deaths occur in sub-Saharan Africa yearly. This is 38 per cent of the world figure and it is the second-largest regional share after South Asia (40 per cent). Nigeria has a huge number because of its population,” she added.
Lagos State Commissioner for Health, Dr Jide Idris, who inaugurated the report, said the state would increase budgetary allocation to health care andensure the implementation of the report’s recommendations.
He said the issue of access to health facilities would be addressed, adding that the state was committed to reduce maternal and child death to zero. “There will be increased physical and social-cultural access to healthcare facilities in Lagos,” Idris assured.