The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says no fewer than 250, 000 children in Nigeria die on their first day of life, describing the current indices for child health in the country as “alarming”.
Mr Maulid Warfa, the Unicef Chief of Field Office, Kano, made the remark in a goodwill message at the opening ceremony of the 51st Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of Paediatric Association of Nigeria (PAN) in Kano on Wednesday.
The conference was organised in collaboration with the UNICEF with the main theme: ‘The Impact of Rapid Population Growth on the Child’.
Warfa said the figure is the second highest in the world, according to the 2017 multi indicator cluster survey.
“The current indices for child health remains alarming as more than 250,000 children in Nigeria die on their first day of life, the second highest in the World according to the 2017 multi indicator cluster survey.
“The situation of Children in Nigeria today is at a crossroads, for change could be either catastrophic if it continues in its current trajectory or transformative if the opportunities available are strategically harnessed.
“Clearly Nigeria is not the best country for those who survive. A child born in Nigeria today is likely to live to the year 2074 while a child born in Denmark is likely to live until the 22nd Century! I don’t want to mention the quality of life as he or she grows up.
“Unfortunately, children are mostly dying from preventable causes such as premature births, complications during delivery, infections like sepsis, malaria and pneumonia – which is a key theme for today’s gathering,” he said.
He said only broad-based multi-sectoral and multi-partner collaboration could ensure that the health and well-being of Nigerian children are secure.
“This requires a recognition that we cannot do it alone. We cannot afford “the business as usual scenario,” the official said.
He said UNICEF and the Pediatric Association of Nigeria remained natural allies in both our vision toward ensuring that every child survived and thrive, our mission to influencing policies and programmes that impact the wellbeing of every child.
Warfa said UNICEF would continue to welcome greater collaboration in the areas of Evidence-Informed Advocacy for the rights and wellbeing of the child.
“This is through acting as “watchdogs” and creating social accountability on child wellbeing, Building technical capacities to help create innovative interventions that impact positively on child health and wellbeing,” he said.