Visiting United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, promised that the United Nations would back efforts to make communities in the West African country healthier.
His trip is part of the Every Woman, Every Child world health campaign that he launched last September during the Millennium Development Goals summit at UN headquarters in New York.
Ban arrived in Nigeria yesterday from the Ivory Coast, where he attended the inauguration of Ivorian president Alassane Ouattara on Saturday and from Nigeria will travel to Ethiopia and France.
Globally, there is an "unacceptable" rate of mothers and children dying because of sub-standard health systems around the world.
"Unfortunately around the world, health systems are not working for women and children. A thousand women die every day from complications, pregnancy and child birth," he said as he visited a UN-funded hospital in the capital, Abuja.
"The crisis of complications can and should be dealt with in a hospital like this one. Twenty thousand children under five die every day. This is a totally unacceptable situation especially because most of these deaths can be easily prevented."
Today, he is set to visit the Dutse Makaranta public health care facilities, also funded by the UN, on the edge of Abuja on Monday,.
He yesterday praised the Nigerian government for interlinking services for maternal, newborn and child health, with programmes on HIV and Aids, tuberculosis, malaria and nutrition.
“You are strengthening health management information systems, and increasing the number of service providers, including community health workers and midwives. These efforts are bearing fruit. Let us build on them to build health and wealth throughout Nigeria, for all Nigerians,” said Ban.
He also met Attahiru Jega, the chairman of the independent National Electoral Commission and congratulated him and his staff for organising above board presidential and legislative elections. The global community, he said saw the recent elections as a major improvement on past polls, noting, however, that there are still a few areas of concern.
Nigeria has one of the highest maternal death rates in Africa. About 145 women die each day during pregnancy or childbirth, as do 2,300 children aged five years and under, according to United Nations figures, putting the country among the worst places in the world for child-bearing women and babies.
The United Nations’ Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health aims to improve the health of hundreds of millions of women and children around the world.