Olaleie Aluko, Abuja
A non-governmental organization, the Blue Babi Initiative for Support, in a report released Wednesday to mark World Youth Day, described Nigeria as the country with the third-largest number of premature births in the world.
The organization announced the number of premature babies born in Nigeria to 773,600, while China and India had 1, 172, 300, and 3,519,100 premature births, respectively.
A warning that premature babies can experience long-term health problems that can affect their brain, lungs, hearing and vision. Founder of the initiative, Dania Ogieriakhi, at a meeting with reporters, described premature birth as the leading cause of death among children under the age of five in a global level.
She said: "The World Prevention Day is to raise awareness of this serious health crisis, according to the World Health Organization, estimating that 15 million babies are born every year 37 weeks of pregnancy and this number is rising. The excessive complication of childbirth is the leading cause of death in children under five years of age.
"Three-quarters of these deaths could be prevented by current, cost-effective interventions, and more than 60 percent of preterm delivery occurs in Africa and South Asia. In low-income countries, 12 percent of babies are prematurely born.
"The top 10 countries with the highest number of premature births are India, China, Nigeria, Pakistan, Indonesia, the United States, Bangladesh, the Philippines, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Brazil."
Ogieriakhi urged stakeholders to devote more energy and resources to social protection of children, including health care and quality education.
"We believe maternal, maternal, infant mortality and unnecessary preventive death can be reduced to the minimum through cooperation between governments at all levels and people," she added.
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