Nigeria Takes over from India as World Capital for Under-five Deaths

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Nigeria has overtaken India as the world capital for deaths of children under the age of five.

This was based on the 2020 mortality estimates released by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), indicating that Nigeria recorded 209,000 neonatal deaths in 1990 – a 61,000 increase compared to 270,000 deaths in 2019.

In the same vein, the figures for number of deaths among children aged five to 14 also increased from 104,000 in 1990 to 119,000 in 2019.

The report explained that while child deaths were uneven across regions, the situation is worse in sub-Saharan Africa and Central and Southern Asia.

It added that while the pandemic had limited direct impact on child mortality, countries worldwide are now experiencing disruptions in child and maternal health services due to resource constraints and a general uneasiness with using health services due to a fear of contracting novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).

The World Bank had in 2018 said Nigeria would take over from India as the world capital for deaths of children under the age of five by 2021.

The bank’s report was based on the fact that India, with a population of 1.3 billion recorded 989,000 under-five deaths in 2017, while Nigeria, with 196 million citizens recorded 714,000 deaths in the same year.

Speaking on the development, UNICEF Director, Henrietta Fore, said: “The global community has come too far towards eliminating preventable child deaths to allow the COVID-19 pandemic to stop us in our tracks.

“If the child survival targets are to be met on time, resources and policy must be geared toward not only sustaining current rates of decline but also accelerating progress, which would save millions of lives.

“If the trends from 2010 to 2019 continue, 53 countries will not meet the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) target on under-five mortality on time – if all countries were to meet that target, 11 million under-five deaths would be averted from 2020 to 2030.

“Achieving the child survival goals and heading off a reversal of progress in child survival in 2020 will require universal access to effective, high-quality and affordable care and the continued, safe provision of life-saving interventions for women, children, and young people.

“If all countries reach the SDG child survival targets by 2030, 11 million lives under age five will be saved – more than half of them in sub-Saharan Africa.”

In its bi-annual economic update on Nigeria, the World Bank said Nigeria records the highest number of child malaria deaths anywhere in the world, adding that Nigeria had the highest number of out-of-school children anywhere in the world, and that 90 per cent of these children are from Northern Nigeria.

“Nigeria’s weak revenue mobilisation has major implications for its growth and development, including for improving its dire social service delivery outcomes.

“Poverty remains high in Nigeria and access to basic social services is not universal. In 2016, the World Bank estimated poverty at 38.8 per cent of the population using the national poverty line.

“By international poverty line of PPP-corrected $1.90 per capita per day, an estimated 49.2 per cent of the population lived below poverty in 2017,” World Bank said.

Idowu Sowunmi