FG Targets Improvement in Infant, Maternal Health

Osagie Ehanire

Onyebuchi Ezigbo in Abuja

Federal government has assured that it will deploy the result of the the 2019 Verbal and Social Autopsy (VASA) study of under-five mortality rate towards further improving the health of infants, children and maternal health.

Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire who stated this yesterday during the launching of the national dissemination of the 2019 Verbal and Social Autopsy (VASA) study of randomly selected deaths from households with under-five mortality cases, undertaken by the Federal Ministry of Health in conjunction with the National Population Commission (NPC) said the study will serve as a vital tool in the critical initiative to improve the health of infants and children and also maternal health.

He said the data generated in the 2019 VASA survey would provide the information needed to identify key deficits and also help federal government in “channeling resources to address developmental needs, as well as monitor and evaluate progress towards meeting our Universal Health Coverage agenda and of the Sustainable Development Goal 3, with regards to maternal and child health in Nigeria.”

VASA 2019 edition was a follow up to the 2018 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), randomly selected deaths from households with under-five mortality cases.

Ehanire further explained that the VASA report was collaborative effort of several organisations with the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Population Commission, including Development Partners, led by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “It is gratifying to note that the indicators from the report represent key areas of maternal healthcare (women aged 15 – 49, Child Health, Nutrition and Child Mortality.” He called on all federal Ministries, Departments and Agencies, State Governments, Local Governments, Organised Private Sector and Civil Society Organisations to feel free to make use of the 2019 VASA data for planning and development purposes,” he said.

Minister of State for Health, Dr. Olurunnimbe Mamora, in his welcome address said the 2019 VASA report would be a veritable tool for planning for neonates, children and maternal health in the country. He disclosed that “The VASA survey was a follow up to the 2018 NDHS, where a total of 3,215 under-five mortality cases were selected out of which 31 percent (974) is neonates while 69 per cent (2,241) were Children.”

“In Nigeria, the most common causes of neonatal deaths including pre-term birth (early birth), birth asphyxia, pneumonia and meningitis,” the minister disclosed. Other causes are tetanus and malformations just to mention a few. He went on to add that other causes of infant and child deaths are religious beliefs, socio-cultural practices, age and education of mother, socio-economic status of household, illness recognition, and quality of care and health system factors,” he said

Earlier, the Chairman, National Population Commission, Alhaji Nasir Isa Kwarra, said the reason for VASA study was to ascertain the causes and determinants of under-five mortality in Nigeria between 2013 to 2018

Kwarra explained that the deaths were selected out of which 31 per cent (974) are neonates while 69 per cent (2,241) are Children, spreading across the country.

He added that the regional spread of the occurrence of death during the period under review were 614 (20 per cent) of the total deaths and were in the Southern part of the country while 2,601 (80 per cent) occurred in the North.