Neonatal deaths responsible for nearly 40% of overall deaths of children under five
Medical experts have called on parents, mothers and expectant mothers to pay a special attention to the first 1000 days of any child, stating that every child stands the chance to survive and develop into a healthy and productive adult if given a great start in life.
The first 1000 days of a child is the period between conception and the second birthday of a child. That is, pregnancy which is 270 days, year one which is 365 days and year two which is 365 days.
The experts who spoke in Lagos at the ongoing advocacy meeting with the media on the ‘First 1000 Days of a Child and COVAX Uptake in the State, organised by the National Orientation Agency (NOA) in conjunction with UNICEF, said that the great start for a child begins from the day the child is conceived in the womb, delivered and cared for in a clean and protected manner.
They also stated that neonatal deaths, the death of a live born infant, regardless of gestational age at birth, within the first 28 completed days of life, account for nearly 40 percent of overall deaths of children under the age of five.
Speaking on the topic: ‘Increasing a child’s chance of survival focusing on 1000 days,
UNICEF Social Behaviours Change (SBC) specialist, Mrs Aderonke Akinola-Akinwole said: “The first 1000 days presents the first window of opportunity to invest in the child’s chance to survive, be healthy, learn and thrive.
“It forms the basis for a child’s intelligence and personality as it is a sensitive period for brain and social development.
“This is a period of massive body growth preventing stunting which can start from the womb.
“The ability of the child to be productive in the future thereby contributing positively to the society is formed of this stage as his cognitive ability gets developed,” Akinola-Akinwole said.
Emphasising on promoting behaviours in the first 1000 during pregnancy, she advised on: “Maternal nutrition pre and upon conception that promotes healthy foetus development. Regular antenatal visit to a health facility, alertness on dangers signs during pregnancy, sleeping under mosquito nets and delivery by a skilled birth attendant.”
After delivery, she also advised, “Early initiation and exclusive breastfeeding, routine immunization, complimentary feeding after six months, infant and young child feeding.”
Other include improved hygiene practices, regular growth monitoring and birthday registration among others.