Nigeria among countries with high infant mortality – World Bank

Daily Courier – The World Bank has disclosed that Nigeria is among the countries with highest rates of infant mortality and child marriage in the world.

This disclosure was made by a World Bank economist, Samik Adhikari, in his presentation during the launch of Policy Note on supporting adolescent girls to kickstart the stalled demographic transition and harness the demographic dividend in Nigeria.

The launch was organised by the World Bank on Friday, both virtually and physically in Abuja.

The World Bank economist said that the high poverty rate had led to early marriage, high fertility rates and limited adolescent girls’ education.

He said, “High poverty rate is one of the strongest determinants for early marriage and high fertility rates among adolescent girls. High poverty also constraints demand for adolescent girls’ education.”

He added that Nigeria had one of the highest rates of under-five mortality rate and infant mortality, pushing women to have more children.

“Nigeria is still among the countries with the highest U5MR and IMR, causing women to have more children in the hope that more of them survive past their childhood.

“The risk of neonatal, post-neonatal, infant, child and U5MR is substantially higher for adolescent mothers.

“Additionally, more than one-thirds of Nigeria’s children under five are stunted severely denting their hopes of realising their full potential in the future,” he said.

Adhikari further identified the lack of easy access to health facilities, especially for many adolescent mother, as a major problem.

He said, “Adolescent mothers are less likely to give birth in presence of skilled providers and often cite distance to health facilities and lack of providers as barriers to accessing health services.”

Adhikari also noted that the country was being plagued by high child marriages, making it have one of the highest rates in the world.

“Despite the existence of national laws and the ratification of relevant international and African treaties, child marriage continues to plague Nigerian society with little decline in some states.

“As a consequence, Nigeria has one of the highest rates in child marriage in the world, with around 44 per cent of Nigerian women currently aged between 20 and 49 per cent married before the age of 18.

“The inability of Nigeria’s law and regulation to prevent child marriage also stems from the incongruity between different parts of the constitution,” Adhikari noted.

The World Bank stressed the need to target adolescent girls with holistic support and measures to reduce fertility and promote demographic transition in Nigeria.