FG Sensitises Stakeholders In Delta On Ways To Prevent Neonatal Deaths

By Kenneth Orusi, The Nigerian Voice, Asaba
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The Federal Government has sensitized stakeholders in Asaba, Delta State on the need for adequate funding and effective application of life saving neonatal commodities "Chlorhexiden" for women and children.

Mrs. Evelyn Agbanyim, the Coordinator, Health Promotion Division, Family Health Department, Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, said this weekend when the team visited the state to meet with stockholders to create advocacy on the use of neonatal commodities to prevent neonatal deaths.

She described neonatal death as such deaths that occurs within few weeks or months after a child has been successfully delivered, attributing it to negligence on the part of the parents for failing to apply the right medication on or before a child was born.

She said that her team had been in the state for three days meeting with various groups to ensure that neonatal mortality was reduced to a bearable minimum in the state.

According to Agbanyim the report received from the Delta State Primary Health Care Development Agency revealed that no fewer than 220 neonatal deaths were recorded in Oshimili South Local Government Area alone in 2014.

She noted that the mortality rate was alarming if only one LGA out of 25 LGAs in the state could record 220 neonatal death in a year, adding that neonatal deaths were preventable if the right medication were applied to the mother and the child.

Agbanyim said though the case of neonatal death has remained high in the country, pointing out that efforts made to check the trend in the last ten years was slow due to skills gap, poor referral network, the activities of traditional birth attendance and traditional beliefs among others.

“The neonatal commodities are four; the Antenatal Corticosteroids is giving to pregnant woman at risk of delivering prematurely aimed at strengthening the lungs of the premature baby. Four per cent Chlorhexiden Gel is used for umbilical cord care within two hours of the child delivery to prevent contamination by germ until the cord cuts off”.

“We also have the injectable antibiotics aimed at preventing neonatal deaths and the last is the resuscitation devices to check asphyxia (difficulties in breathing) in newly born babies”, she explained.

She noted that the only way to achieve success in reducing neonatal deaths was for all stakeholders to partner and ensure that there was adequate funding and effective application of the lifesaving commodities for women and children.

“We are creating awareness on this commodities and of the four, only Chlorhexiden is the only new product and others are currently being underutilised even though they are very affordable. So, the stakeholders should ensure adequate supply of the commodities and increased demand for them to promote better health for our children and reduce neonatal mortality in the country”, Agbanyim said.

Dr. Ngozi Orofuke of the State Primary Health Care Development Agency called on the hospital and health personnel to have a change of attitude towards patients especially with pregnant women.

Orofuke also noted that most parents were not receptive to change, adding that adequate sensitisation was needed while requite training should be giving to hospital workers to enhance their ability to accept a change.

“We need to use every available medium including the social medium, the traditional gongs and the town cries where necessary to reach the people at the grassroots particularly pregnant women to enable them guide against this. Besides, government can partner the Nollywood industry platform to send this vital information to the people since most Nigerians no longer listen to local news but glue to their home videos via cables networks”.

Mrs. Stella Macaulay, Director, State Ministry of Information, called for sacrifice by private individuals to support government in procuring these lifesaving commodities to ensure that neonate deaths was reduced.

She also stressed the need for the training of traditional birth attendants in the various communities to enable them know their limits.

Some of the stockholders called for grassroots sensitization by government and private individuals since this bothers on life saving.