The high rate of child mortality in Nigeria has remained a cause for worry for all parents and stakeholders in the health sector as the country aims to better its rank as one of the countries with the worst child mortality ratios in the world in 2020.

As of 2019, studies showed that one out of every ten children born in Nigeria is likely to die before their fifth birthday, a hideous record which all concerned parties will be hoping to provide lasting solutions to in the new year.

Substandard public hygiene in the country means that vulnerable children and even parents are constantly exposed to bacterial infections that cause pneumonia and diarrhoea, diseases the World Health Organisation (WHO) says are responsible for about 28% of under age deaths in Nigeria. In an even more disturbing UNICEF report in 2018, studies showed that under-five mortality rate is 100 to 1000 live births, while the segment of the national population practising open-defecation is 25%.

In September 2019, Nigeria’s Health Minister, Dr Osagie Ehanire, had described the “rising and unprecedented” rates of maternal and infant mortality in the country as “simply unacceptable”, while calling for a strategic roadmap for action to provide progressive solutions to the menace.

Thankfully, antiseptic brand, Dettol, as part of its contribution to the reduction of child mortality in Nigeria, launched an integrated multi-level campaign it aptly named Clean Naija Initiative, with the aim of creating awareness, education and driving behavioural change to achieve a cleaner and healthier Nigeria.

Funke Akindele at a School in Lagos for Dettol Clean Naija’s School Hygiene Program — July 2019.

In May 2019, while the whole world commemorated the World Hand Hygiene Day, Dettol took the Clean Naija initiative to the stalls of Ojuwoye Market, Mushin, where their newly commissioned hand wash station was launched by Nollywood star Funke Akindele, the brand ambassador. The brand also celebrated Global Handwashing Day under the theme, ‘Clean Hands for All’.

Other life-changing initiatives that have come from the antiseptic brand’s dedication to the reduction of child mortality in Nigeria are the New Moms Program, through which it has educated over five million pregnant and new mothers on hygienic practices, and the School Hygiene Program, through which no lesser than seven million children have been educated on proper hand hygiene habits over the past seven years.

Earlier last year, Dettol’s parent company, Reckitt Benckiser also entered a collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Water Resources in a bid to tackle the evident problem of hygiene and sanitation in Nigeria.

On parents and health sector stakeholders’ concerns over what needs to be done to stem high child mortality in Nigeria, Dettol is showing the way and it is imperative that the rest of the country lend their support to the noble causes to achieve a greater result.