By Shina Abubakar – Osogbo
The National Population Commission (NPC) on Tuesday said it has started a collection of data for 2019 Verbal and Social Autopsy (VASA) in Osun State to determine the causes and contributory factors of deaths in newborns and children under five years.
It added that the national survey is aimed at providing credible data to help policymakers to plan appropriately for the health sector and reduce the mortality rate in children.
Addressing journalists at the commission’s office in Osogbo the Acting Chairman of the Commission, Barr Bimbola Salu-Hundeyin, represented by the State Director, Mr. Ayo Onikanni, said that the survey was aimed at providing up to date information on early childhood mortality rate.
According to her, the major causes infant under five years mortality, using the 2018 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), includes preterm birth (early birth), birth asphyxia (a child not breathing or crying at birth), religious beliefs , sociocultural practice, age and education of mother, socio-economic status of household, illness recognition, quality of care and health system.
Hundeyin noted that under-five mortality in Nigeria was very high with an average of 132 deaths per 1000 births, adding that every available tool must be deployed to combat and curb the menace.
“This, therefore, brings us to the imperativeness of generating reliable data on the causes and determinants of neonatal, infant and child mortality in Nigeria.
“According to the Nigerian Demographic Health Survey conducted by the National population Commission in 2018, a total number of 3,215 under 5 mortality cases were selected out of which 31 percent (974) are Neonates while 69 percent (2,241) are children.
“The Northern region had the highest number of about 2,601 deaths which is equivalent to 80 percent, while in the southern part of the country, the number of child mortality amounted to 614 deaths which are 20 percent of the total number of deaths recorded in the 36 states of the Federation.
“The commission finds this development very disturbing and is set to conduct yet another survey to determine the causes of deaths in children within this age range.
“The result of the survey would provide national and zonal level estimates of the major causes of under-five mortality in Nigeria from 2013 to 2018.
It will also make available patterns of care-seeking, social factors and interventions received as related to death in children less than five years old, along with qualitative narratives of factors associated with these patterns,” she said.
She urged government officials both at the states and local government levels, religious leaders, traditional rulers, and the press to support the exercise to succeed.
Hundeyin further said that the commission collaborated with the Federal Ministry of Health and other key stakeholders in conducting the 2019 VASA survey.