The Minister of Health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, says Verbal and Social Autopsy (VASA) Survey is necessary for national planning and behavioral change for the well being of children.
He said this at the official opening ceremony of training of interviewers for the 2019 Verbal and Social Autopsy (VASA) survey in Kini, Akwanga, Nasarawa State on Wednesday.
Represented by Dr. Emmanuel Meribole, a Director in the ministry, Ehanire described the survey as a continuation of the National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS) for data collection in the country.
He said that the survey would help to generate data for an action plan to end child mortality in the country
According to him, under-five mortality is becoming a problem in Nigeria and constitutes a challenge to health interventions.
Mrs. Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin, the acting Chairman of National Population Commission (NPC), said that the 2019 VASA survey would be
the second, as there was a first VASA survey in 2014.
Salu-Hundeyin explained that the survey would provide national and zonal level estimates of the major causes of under-five mortality in Nigeria in the 2013-2018 period, among others.
She added that the survey would also make available national and zonal patterns of care-seeking, social factors, and interventions
received as related to deaths in children less than five years of age, along with quality narratives of factors associated with the patterns.
She said that “as a follow up to the 2018 Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), randomly selected death from a household with an
under-5 death from 2013 to 2018 was sampled from the 2018 NDHS and a total of 3,215 under-5 mortality cases were selected.”
The population commission boss said that out of the survey conducted, 31 per cent (974) are Neonates, while 69 per cent (2,241) children.
She explained that the regional spread of the occurrence of death during the period were 614 (20 per cent) of the total deaths in the Southern
part of the country, while 2,601 (80 per cent) occurred in the North.
Salu-Hundeyin noted that in Nigeria, the most common causes of neonatal deaths, including preterm birth (early birth), birth asphyxia
(a child not breathing or crying at birth) were severe infections such as septicemia, pneumonia, and meningitis.
According to her, other causes are tetanus and malformations, while major causes of young child deaths are pneumonia, diarrhea, and malaria.
She expressed hope in efforts of all to prevent some of the deaths even before a woman became pregnant, which she said was ensuring nourishment of mothers before and during pregnancy.
She advised that while cultural practices that exposed infants to be susceptible to some of these killer diseases should be avoided at all costs, it was also imperative that women were allowed sufficient time between pregnancies.
She reiterated the commitment of the commission to ending under-five mortality in the country, saying it was in realisation of the commitment
that NPC, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and others deployed to the field personnel to collect information for analysis and data generation.
The NPC chairman said every child lost to death represented an unfulfilled potential and called for collective efforts to ensure that every child was
given the opportunity to first be born, live and fulfill his or her potential.
The VASA survey is majorly a study that seeks to ascertain the causes and determinants of under-5 mortality.