The 11th Annual General Meeting and Scientific Conference of the Nigerian Society of Neonatal Medicine (NISONM) held at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Lodge, Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State between June 28 – 29, 2018. The Conference, tagged Kebbi 2018, was hosted by her Excellency, the wife of the Executive Governor of Kebbi State, Dr Zainab Atiku Bagudu. The theme of the Conference was “Achieving optimal quality of care for newborn health in Nigeria: The current state. The subthemes were “Community based newborn care” and “Improving preterm survival: Updates in practice and research”.
The conference was preceded by visit to – hard – to – reach community, Community mobilization / Health talks in Jega LGA followed by three workshops on modified Essential Newborn Care Course (mENCC) at Birnin Kebbi, Jega and Argungu LGAs, Neonatal Resuscitation Training and Neonatal Respiratory Support.
The opening ceremony was chaired by Professor Mu’uta Ibrahim (former CMD,UDUTH Sokoto and former VC, Katsina State University). The Minister of Health was represented by the Head of Child Health, FMOH, Dr Bose Adeniran while His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Kebbi State, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu who was represented by His Excellency, the Deputy Governor, Col (rtd) Samaila Yombe Dabai declared the Conference open. The keynote address titled “Achieving optimal quality of care for newborns through collaboration and partnership in Nigeria” was delivered by Dr Oniyire Adetiloye (Country Director, JHPIEGO).
The conference included five plenary sessions and two parallel scientific sessions. During the conference the following observations were made:
- The burden of neonatal deaths is still high and contributes to one-third of under-five mortality.
- The efforts made so far in the country in addressing the challenges of newborn care in Nigeria are quite commendable.
- Newborn care efforts in Nigeria are still largely donor – driven and there is still low level coverage of neonatal services and interventions.
- The advances in care of the newborn in the areas of respiratory support and neuroprotection are still in infancy state in Nigeria.
- Neonatal intensive care is capital and resource intensive and has an all – or – none nature.
- There is a complex interplay between these different spheres – industrial, scientific, professional, public and political – and this interplay affects neonatal care.
- There is the need for collaboration and partnership in neonatal care.
- Retinopathy of prematurity (ROP) is a cause of “needless blindness” and its epidemic is now on us.
Following the aforementioned observations, the conference made the following suggestions:
- There is the need to sustain and scale up the present efforts of the Federal Government and development partners.
- Establishment and strengthening of professional linkages and partnerships with other relevant groups such as SOGON, NANNM, NIPOSS as well as non-Governmental and private organizations.
- Establishment of NICUs on Regional basis using the six geo-political zones and use of Public-Private Partnerships strategy to ensure proper funding, accountability and sustainability.
- Paediatricians and Neonatologists should be involved in advocacy as well as resource mobilization activities geared towards sustainable newborn survival.
- All health workers involved in the care of the new born, including doctors and nurses should receive capacity building on various aspects of newborn care.
- We need to have a Nigerian ROP program with the institutionalization of regular ROP screening in Nigeria.
- Early referral should be encouraged to reduce the unnecessary delays with the strengthening of referral systems.