The National Population Commission (NPC) has commenced data collection for the 2019 Verbal and Social Autopsy (VASA) survey in Kogi state to determine the causes and contributory factors of deaths in children under the age of five.
Prof. Isah Jimoh, the Federal Commissioner, NPC, Kogi State, said in Lokoja, the state capital, that the survey was to unravel the causes and determinants of neonatal, infant and child mortality in the state.
He said this year’s survey was the second in the series conducted by the commission, saying the first was in 2014.
Jimoh noted that under-five mortality in Nigeria was very high, with an average of 132 deaths per 1000 births, stressing the need to deploy every available tool to curb the menace in the society.
He reaffirmed the commission’s commitment to generating data that would aid planning in the health sector, adding that all necessary arrangements had been put in place to ensure the successful implementation of the 2019 VASA.
The NPC federal commissioner noted that the survey, which commenced on Oct. 19 across the 36 states of the federation, including FCT, would end on Dec. 18.
According to him, the survey will assist policy makers with reliable data to plan and formulate health policies relating to maternal and child mortality.
Jimoh said that the survey would also cover up-to-date information on early childhood mortality rate, estimation of prevalence and health system factors of neonatal, infant under-five mortality, using the 2018 Nigeria Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) households.
He noted that a randomly-selected death in a household with an under-five death sampled during the 2018 NDHS revealed that a total of 3,215 mortality cases were recorded, with 31 percent (974) neonates and 69 percent (2, 241) children.
He added that 20 percent (614) of the total deaths were from the southern part of the country, while the remaining 80 percent (2,601) deaths occurred in the North.
The NPC federal commissioner further said that Gombe and Bauchi states had the highest under-five mortality of 331 cases each, while Kogi, Benue and Kwara had the lowest of 166 cases each.
He noted that religious beliefs, socio-cultural practices, age and education of mother, socio-economic status of household, illness recognition, quality of care and health system, were also factors that caused infant and child deaths.
Jimoh expressed optimism that the data would be used by policy makers and stakeholders to formulate policies, design and implement programmes that would reduce neonatal and child mortality to the barest minimum in the country.
He urged government officials at all levels, security agencies, community, traditional and religious leaders as well as members of the press to give all the necessary support to ensure the success of the exercise.
The survey was funded by the United States Agency of International Development (USAID), in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the National Bureau of Statistics, among others.