The Federal Government says Nigeria records about 756,000 under five deaths annually.
Mr Osarenoma Uwaifo, the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Health, disclosed this at a two-day annual symposium on experience sharing on Integrated Community Case Management of Childhood illness (ICCM) on Tuesday in Abuja.
Osarenoma, who was represented by Dr Bose Adeniran, Head, Child Health Division, said that the data was made known by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (IGME).
According to him, Nigeria contributes 11 per cent of total global deaths of under-five, ranking second on the list of countries with burdens of child mortality.
He said that one in every eight children born in Nigeria die before their fifth birthday.
He said that pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria represented an estimated 58 per cent of under five deaths with malnutrition underlying about 50 per cent of them.
He said that majority of these childhood deaths can be prevented with high impact interventions and treated with very low cost medicines which most of these children living in hard to reach areas do not have access to.
“The challenges to childhood deaths remained finance and access to healthcare; that is why the ministry adopted the ICCM; an evidence based community curative intervention that addresses the issues of access, quality, demand and equity in healthcare.
“Strengthening the ICCM will maximise the impact on treatment outcome for sick children,’’ the permanent secretary said.
Osarenoma urged state governments to buy into the initiative in order to curb childhood deaths.
The Minister of Health, Prof. Isaac Adewole, who was represented by Dr Adebimpe Adebiyi, Director, Family Health Department in the ministry, said that government was working on scaling up of the evidence based intervention of the well being of children.
Adewole said that Nigeria with an approximate population of 190 million people and annual growth rate of 3.2 per cent was the second largest population in the world and the most populous nation in Africa.
He said that children below five years of age constituted approximately 17 per cent of this population and Nigeria’s demographic and health indices as at 2013 was characterised with fertility rate of 5.5 per cent.
He said that Nigeria also had a low contraceptive prevalent rate of 10 per cent maternal mortality ratio of 576 per 100,000 live births, up to five maternal mortality rate of 128 per 1000 live births and neo natal mortality rate 37 per 1000 live births.
“The major causes of mortality include neo natal causes which accounts for 32 per cent malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea put together are responsibly for approximately 34 of deaths.
“Addressing these challenges requires investment in terms of political will, leadership as well as provision of adequate content.
“Our plan is to domesticate health plans that will reach out to mothers and babies in rural areas.’’
Adewole also urged states to sustain the ICCM initiative implementation in Nigeria to boost healthcare.
He said that the ministry of health was collaborating with development partners with a focus to integrate the management of childhood illnesses and the management of sick mothers as well.
He said the plan was majorly targeted at the rural areas that were hard to reach areas including the internally displaced camps.
He said that the ministry was not only using the conventional health workers to achieve this but also community resource persons that had been trained in order to deliver first aid treatment to some illnesses before they aggravate.
He said that these health workers help in identifying early childhood killer diseases and refer serious cases beyond their management.
He said that this plan was helping to drastically reduce childhood deaths in Nigeria adding that the ministry started with two states but had reached 12 and was targeting to cover the 36 states soon.