Health Minister approves production of newborn antiseptic gel by Nigerian company

Chlorhexidine gel is a high impact, low-cost medicine that prevents umbilical cord infections in newborns.

The Minister of Health, Onyebuchi Chukwu, on Tuesday in Bauchi granted regulatory approval for the production of newborn cord care antiseptic gel, Chlorhexidine Digluconate 7.1%, by a Nigerian pharmaceutical company, Drugfield Pharmaceuticals Ltd.

The company thus becomes the first Nigerian and African company to manufacture the crucial baby product.
This was made known in a statement released by the Senior Adviser, Knowledge and Communication,  USAID/Targeted States High Impact Project (TSHIP), Dagang Gang.

Chlorhexidine gel is a high impact, low-cost medicine that prevents umbilical cord infections in newborns.

Mr. Gang said the minister at the Bauchi State Health Council called on all states across Nigeria to invest in the use of Chlohexidine gel and other lifesaving medicines recommended by the United Nation Commission.

About 30 per cent of newborn deaths in Nigeria are attributable to infections; and this is an obstacle to the attainment of the United Nations MDGs by 2015.

A recent report by Save the Children, a nongovernmental organization shows that 2.9 million babies died within 28 days after delivery in 2012.

These newborn deaths arise from cases of premature birth, complications during birth, and infections.

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The report also noted that 950, 000 newborn deaths can be prevented every year if essential health services were more equitably distributed. According to the report, this will cause a reduction in newborn mortality by 38 per cent.

The use of Chlorhexidine in Nigeria was pioneered by Sokoto State in April 2013, alongside the use of Misoprostol another lifesaving commodity for the prevention of post-partum haemorrhage, PPH, in women during child delivery.

The then Minister of State for Health, Muhammad Pate, applauding the Sokoto State Government’s initiative, also called on other state governments to take a cue from the state.

Also, Chief of Party, USAID/ TSHIP, Nosa Orobaton, commended the health minister, the Nigerian government and their private partners for their effort in preventing newborn death in Nigeria.

“We congratulate the Honourable Minister for the focused leadership leading to local production of Chlorhexidine. We praise the focused partnership of government, private sector and Sokoto State communities. With nationwide use, Nigeria has a good chance to dramatically cut preventable newborn deaths ahead of the UN MDG 2105,” Mr. Orobaton said.

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