One million Nigerian children die yearly: UNICEF

Published on Wednesday 16th July 2008

Lagos (Nigeria): The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Tuesday in Abuja said over 1 million infants die yearly in Nigeria while nearly a third of the children under five years of age are underweight, reported This Day newspaper on Wednesday.

The UN agency said Nigeria ranked among 12 countries with the highest mortality rate of children below the age of five.

Robert Limlim, UNICEF representative in Nigeria, disclosed this in Abuja at the launching of its flagship publications on the situation of children throughout the world, adding that half of the population in Nigeria lacked access to improved drinking water sources while the number of children crippled by polio has been on the rise.

The United Nations urged all tiers of government in Nigeria to increase investments in the health sector so that effective interventions with high impact on child survival can be implemented.

He said sub-Saharan Africa faces the greatest crisis of child mortality as about half of child deaths in the world occur in the region and nearly half of children dying in West Africa are in Nigeria, the most populous African country, with a population of 130 million.

According to the state of the world's children and state of Africa's children reports, the under-five mortality ranking indicates the probability of children dying between birth and exactly five years of age and is a critical indicator of the well being of children.

Other countries in the same category as Nigeria include Sierra Leone, Angola, Afghanistan, Niger, Liberia, Mali, Chad, Equatorial Guinea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Burkina Faso and Guinea Bissau.

Limlim said Nigeria needed to demonstrate increased attention and investment for the survival and development of children if the country must achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

He added that Nigeria must make infant mortality reduction a top priority and a strong benchmark for judging progress of states in the federation as well as an indicator for leadership accountability and delivery of democratic dividends in the coming years.