Health Place for Children Initiative (HPCI), a non governmental organisation, has established a five-bed pediatric intensive care unit at the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) in Enugu. 

In a statement on Monday, Odiraa Nwankwo, founder of HPCI and a clinical assistant professor of paediatrics at the Sidney Kimmel Medical College, Jefferson University Philadelphia, said the required equipment/devices and supplies at the clinic were valued above $250,000. 

“In September, 2019, we will begin the initial phase of training of healthcare providers and biomedical personnel,” he said. 

“Despite improved immunisation, the Under-5 mortality ratio is still high both in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries. Data from the Nigerian Demographic Health Survey in 2013 suggests that one out of every eight children born in Nigeria will die before their fifth birthday. Majority of the causes of these high mortality rates are either preventable or reversible.

“For Nigeria to achieve the 2030 Sustainable Development Goal 3.2,  a smart comprehensive approach that includes improved immunisation, health promotion, provision of prompt acute and critical care services should be promptly adopted. However, the provision of critical care services in organised Paediatric Intensive Care Units is either rudimentary or non-existent in many low and middle income countries.

“Sadly, in Nigeria today, if a child is in respiratory distress/failure and goes to an emergency room at most of the teaching hospitals, they do not have the capacity to incubate and mechanically ventilate the child.”

It is on this premise, Nwankwo explained, that the HPCI is embarking on the project at UNTH. 

He added that this is a pilot project, and the goal is to upscale to other teaching hospitals in Nigeria. 

“We hope to establish at least one Paediatric ICU at a major teaching hospital in each of the six geo-political regions in Nigeria by the end of 2023, applying the UNTH model,” he said. 

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