• Background of the study

An infant is a child less than a year old; although in legal terms, it includes children up to the age of seven. However for the nature and scope of this study, my definition of an infant will remain within the medical definition of an infant. Infant mortality rate is the number of deaths of infant (children under one year of age) per 1000 live births within a year in a country. This includes neonatal death rate (occurring within the first twenty eight days of life) and post neonatal mortality rate (from the twenty eight day to the remainder of the first year).Park (2007, p23) clearly points out that Infant mortality rates is seen as a reasonable approximation to assume that the lower it is, the wealthier a country is, therefore it is a basis for comparison between countries regarding health status. Health inequalities are disparities and variations observable in health status of any group of people. According to Graham (2007), this variation in health is a common feature of all societies and cannot be totally eliminated. it is often influenced by the social status of the individuals as people in high social niche tends to have better health than those of lower status (seigrist and Marmot 2006).Nigeria is a highly populated country comprising over 150milon people of varying ethnicity,religion,culture and tradition. Pattern and distribution of health trends and vary within the country and much more when compared to other countries of the world thereby leading to inequality in health .Statistical data by UN (2007) shows that the average annual birth rate is about 5milion and over 475,000 of these children die before their first birthday. Infant mortality rate in Nigeria is one of the highest both within the African continent and globally. Park (2007, p.454) noted that more than 40% of infant death occur within the first month of life and a large chunk of global infant mortality comes from the developing world and according to a United Nations report in 2005, Africa accounted for 40% of the total global infant mortality with over 3million children out of 7.5million infant deaths; also in the same year, Asia lost over 4million infants. From this record, it is clear that Africa and Asia constituted over 94% global infant mortalities. This trend has been constituent for so many years and inductively, Nigeria’s infant mortality rate constitutes over 15% in Africa and 6% of global infant deaths.  In the 21st century more than 10 million children less than 5 years old die each year.  Most of these deaths are from preventable and treatable conditions, and almost all deaths are in poor countries.  Of these 10 million deaths, eight million are infants, half of who are newborns in their first month of life.  A high proportion (40%) of deaths in children less than 5 years occurs in the first month of life, and 30% during their first week.  Infant and child mortality rates vary among world regions, and these differences are large and increasing.  In 1990, in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) there were 180 deaths per 1000 live births, and only 9 deaths per 1000 live births in industrialized countries, that is a 20-fold difference.  In 2000, SSA had a mortality rate of 175 deaths per 1000 children and 6 deaths per 1000 children in industrialized countries, an increase to 29-fold difference.

For the past three decades, significant progress has been made towards the reduction of infant mortality rates in third world countries.  As a result between 1960 and 1993 in the Arab states infant mortality rates declined from 167 to 66 per 1000 live births, in South East Asia from 146 to 42 per 1000 live births, in Latin America from 107 to 45 per 1000 live births, and in SSA from 167 to 97 per 1000 live births.  Although SSA experienced a decline it still retains more than five times the rate for East Asia (excluding China; UNDP, 1996).  Also, in most developing countries mortality rate among children under the age of five years decreased from 243 to less than 100 and once more, SSA lags behind with a rate of 174 per 1000 live births when compared with the Arab States (73 per 1000).  At present the high infant mortality rate in SSA is attracting international, national and individual researchers seeking effective and definitive health programs or methodology to implement sustainable measures or solutions towards reduction of infant mortality rates.


For any country who wants to achieve the objective of the World Health Organization (WHO), that is, reduction on the risk associated with child birth and childbearing, such country must equip all the health care services in her country. This work tends to emphasis on the causes and possible solution of infant mortality in Nigeria. Despite the fact that, the establishment of the institution of safe motherhood initiative in the health sector, maternal mortality was still very high, ignoring the main aim of safe motherhood initiative. Mothers in the country are involved and their range is not known.