A dear friend lost his infant daughter some weeks ago. I was so shocked when he shared the news that until today, I have not found the right words to say.
You see I had gone for the baby’s thanksgiving service. We were overjoyed for this bundle of joy.
My family and his had gone on a trip together. I held her hands in the vehicle while she slept so peacefully.
.She had slept almost all through the trip but when she opened her eyes, the world lit up.
Her face was like glass and a garden. Radiating.
But one day, her dad called. They had lost her. They had done all they could.
According to WHO, the past few years have experienced some worsening of the child mortality rate in Nigeria. In fact, research says, 1 in 34 babies born in Nigeria die before their first birthday.
Infants Mortality has gone from 1 in 103, 1 in 90, 1 in 67 to this damning ratio of 1 in 34 – Which puts Nigeria as one of the highest numbers of infant deaths in the world.
While this is due to the country’s high birth rate, there are still some children born outside health facilities and unassisted by professionals which are unaccounted for.
Knowing that this phenomenon is not peculiar to Nigeria, it is sad to note despite the staggering death toll in Nigeria, we are the least people doing about it.
Today is International Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. It commemorates the death of a newborn, serving as a day to remember fluttering heartbeats which suddenly stopped.
In the United States for instance, the commemoration began in 1988 when then-President Ronald Reagan designated the entire month of October as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month.
In 2002, the October 15th Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day Campaign began as an American movement. Robyn Bear, Lisa Brown and Tammy Novak petitioned the federal government as well as the governors of each of the 50 states resulting in 20 states signing proclamations recognizing October 15, 2002, as the first observance of Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day (PAILRD).
As a further result of the American campaign effort, Concurrent Resolution H.Con>RES.222 supporting the goals and ideals of National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day was passed in the House of Representatives on September 28, 2006.
On this day, the public is asked to light a candle at 7 pm on October 15th to show support.
But not only do they grieve, but campaigns are also floated. Activities and policies that are committed to improving birth outcomes are implemented.
Both public and private health agencies are tirelessly working together with health care providers, communities, and other partners to reduce infant mortality.
It is a big deal despite the infant mortality rate in the United States being 5.8 deaths per 1,000 live births – 1 in 200 births.
They say it is unacceptable. How then is it acceptable for Nigeria to have 1 in 34?
Because in Nigeria, people would rather have their child at home instead of going to the hospital?
Because in Nigeria, people think immunization is a waste of time?
Because in Nigeria, people think antenatal and postnatal are not necessary?
Because in Nigeria, our hospitals are so poorly equipped that a mild illness becomes life-threatening?
Because in Nigeria, parents would rather give their babies agbor than take her to the hospital?
When we lost my friend’s child, they had done all they could, medically and otherwise. Just imagine people who didn’t have the chance.
What can we do as a people to reduce infant mortality?
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