By Angela Atabo
The Federal Government on Thursday launched three new-born guidelines and a training manual to tackle neonatal mortality.
Dr Osagie Ehanire, Minister of Health, made this known in Abuja during the commemoration of the 2021 World Prematurity Day held in collaboration with Save the Children International (SCI) and other NGOs.
Ehanire said that the launch of the operational guideline became imperative because there was a deficit of platforms for talking to people.
According to him, the theme for this year’s Prematurity Day: “Zero separation: act now! Keep parents and babies born too soon together’’, addresses the immediate need of prematurely born babies.
He said that it also closed premium on zero separation of babies born too soon away from their parents and this would enhance the chances of premature to survive and thrive.
He explained that the term premature referred to babies born sooner than the expected delivery date adding that the guidelines would set additional standards for new-born care in Nigeria.
“To commemorate this year’s world Prematurity Day, the Federal Ministry of Health will be launching three new born guidelines and a training manual.
“The documents launched are: Kangaroo Mother Care (KMC) Operational Guidelines, National Guideline for Basic New-born Care (NGBNC) and the National Guidelines for Comprehensive New-born Care (NGCNC).
Also launched was the National Guidelines for Comprehensive New-born Care (NGCNC) Training Manual.
“According to the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) 2018, Neonatal Mortality Rate (NMR) is 39 deaths per 1000 live births.
“The three major causes of neonatal deaths are prematurity (31%), intrapartum complications including birth asphyxia (31%) and sepsis (22%).
“According to the NDHS 2018, out of the 132 deaths per 1,000 live births of under-five mortality rate, neonatal deaths contributes 32 per cent.’’ the minister said.
Ehanire said that this implied that “if we collectively work hard to reduce neonatal deaths by making sure that parents and babies born too soon are kept or stayed together, the unacceptable under-five mortality rate of 132 per 1,000 live births will improve.’’
The minister also said that these babies needed loads of love and support.
He added that the World Prematurity Day was an opportunity because it aimed at creating awareness about issues associated with preterm births.
He said that it also spread information about how to help and support affected families by providing emotional and psychological guidance.
Ifedilichukwu Innocent, Advocacy, Campaign and Policy Manager, SCI Nigeria, also commended the Ministry of Health and other partners for the giant stride of launching the guidelines.
Innocent said that the significance of the guidelines meant that Nigeria now had a clear roadmap on how to train health workers and equip them with strategies to help new born babies, especially the premature ones.
“SCI has been working with the Federal Ministry of Health in so many areas, especially in the area of new born and child health.
“We have supported a lot of policy development like the recently-concluded child health policy and we are also part of these guidelines launched today.
“In the past, we did situation analysis to truly understand the issues on ground and we are happy with the progress the Ministry of Health is making in various areas,’’ Innocent said. (NAN)