A report of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), has highlighted the need for Nigeria to act fast and reform its health sector. 

The oil-rich nation ranked 11th in the list of most dangerous places for anyone to give birth while many other oil producing countries are not listed.

A new report on "New born Mortality" released by UNICEF puts Nigeria’s new born mortality rate at 29 deaths per 1,000 births.

According to the report, eight of the 10 most dangerous places to be born are in sub-Saharan Africa, where pregnant women are much less likely to receive assistance during delivery due to poverty, conflict and weak institutions.

“In the recent Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) conducted by the Government of Nigeria in 2016/17, the rate of new born deaths per 1000 births is 37.

“This national average hides the differences between the 36 states and the slow progress in some of them,’’ the report said.


On the causes of new born deaths, the report said more than 80 percent of new born deaths were due to pre-maturity, asphyxia, complications during birth or infections such as pneumonia and sepsis.

"These deaths can be prevented with access to well-trained midwives during antenatal and postnatal visits as well as delivery at a health facility.

"These should be along with proven solutions like clean water, disinfectants, breastfeeding within the first hour, skin-to-skin contact, proper cord care, and good nutrition.

"However, a shortage of well-trained health workers and midwives means that thousands don’t receive the life-saving support they need to survive," it said.

The report said that globally in low-income countries, the average new born mortality rate was 27 deaths per 1,000 births, while in high-income countries, it was three deaths per 1,000.

Nigeria’s figure fell short of what is obtainable in low income countries where many believed Nigeria should be categorised.

A statement by UNICEF issued by Eva Hinds, UNICEF Nigeria, quoted Mohamed Fall, UNICEF Nigeria’s Representative as saying “a fair chance in life begins with a strong, healthy start.

“Unfortunately, many children in Nigeria are still deprived of this.

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"MICS data tells us that the trend is improving but urgent action needs to be taken for Nigeria to reach the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)," Fali stated.

Efforts should be focused at equipping health facilities and training health workers, some organisations reacting to the report said.