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Nigeria, in the past few years has experienced some worsening of child mortality . The infant mortality rate evaluated at 100 per 1000 in 2003 was measured at 87 in 1990. This can be in part explained by the persisting low numbers of births occurring in health facilities and the low number of births attended by trained healthcare service providers. In 2003, two third of the births in Nigeria still occurred at home. In addition only slightly more than one-third of births in are attended by doctors, nurses, or midwives. In 2000 the maternal mortality ratio in Nigeria was 800 per 100 000 live births.

It is apparent through the elevated mortality rates that the lack of access to or use of quality delivery services is an issue of immense importance in Nigeria. Problems such as obtaining money for treatment, distance to health facility and having to take transport are some of the many difficulties stated by women in describing difficulty with accessing healthcare.

Two laughing mothers with their babies

The aforementioned lack of trained health care attended births in Nigeria is compounded by the fact that only six in ten mothers receive antenatal care from a trained medical professional. Nurses and midwives are the most frequently used source of healthcare. Good antenatal care can prevent the major causes of neonatal mortality in Nigeria—neonatal tetanus, malaria, and maternal anemia. However, as of 2003 only 58 percent of pregnant women received iron supplements and only 39 received drugs to prevent malaria.

The consequences of the poor state of pregnant women in Nigeria are numerous and affect maternal as well as child mortality. The under five mortality ratio in Nigeria is 201 per 1000 live births meaning that one in five Nigerian children never reach the age of 5. Infant deaths, which account for half of child mortality have increased from what they were in 1990. With a 13% immunization rate for children between 12-23 months, Nigeria is the African country with the lowest vaccination rate. Substantial presence of Acute Respiratory Infections and diarrhoea also contribute to the elevated mortality rates for children.

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