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FG Urges MDAs, Others To Embrace 2019 VASA Data For Planning, Dev

A call has gone to all federal ministries, departments and agencies, state and local governments, organized private sector and civil society organizations to feel free to make use of the 2019 VASA data for planning and development purposes. The minister of health, Dr. Osagie Ehanire, made the call while delivering his address at the official launch and national dissemination of the 2019 Verbal and Social Autopsy (VASA) study undertaken by the Federal Ministry of Health in conjunction with the National Population Commission (NPC) in Abuja recently. Ehanire said the data generated in the 2019 VASA survey would provide the information needed to identify key deficits. According to him, it will also help us channel resources to address developmental needs, as well as monitor and evaluate progress towards meeting our Universal Health Coverage (UHC) agenda and of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG3) with regards to maternal and child health in Nigeria. The minister explained that the Verbal and Social Autopsy Study provided an up to date health and social indicators on under-5 deaths in Nigeria and the distribution along geopolitical zones and individual states. "The high ranking of the health sector among the nine priority areas of the current administration was an indication of the president's vision and government's commitment to promote health and well-being of all Nigerians. "The 2019 VASA report is thus a vital tool in the critical initiative to improve the health of infants and children and also maternal health, he said. Ehanire further stated that the VASA report was the product of the sound collaboration of several organizations 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. Ehanire added. Earlier, the minister of state for health, Dr. Olurunnimbe Mamora, who gave a welcome address, said the 2019 VASA report would be a veritable tool for planning for neonates, children and maternal health in the country. Mamora revealed that: "The VASA survey was a follow up to the 2018 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), where a total of 3,215 under-5 mortality cases were selected out of which 31 per cent (974) is neonates while 69 per cent (2,241) were children. His words: "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 stated that other causes of infant and child deaths were 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. While commending the various stakeholders involved in the collation of the data findings, Mamora expressed optimism that with the launch of the data, the VASA study would find usefulness by policymakers and all stakeholders "to design programmes of better health care delivery in Nigeria. Earlier, the chairman, National Population Commission (NPC), Alhaji Nasir Isa Kwarra, revealed that the Verbal and Social Autopsy Survey was a study that seeks to ascertain the causes and determinants of under-5 mortality in Nigeria between 2013 to 2018. Kwarra pointed out that the 2019 VASA edition which was a follow up to the 2018 National Demographic Health Survey (NDHS), randomly selected deaths from households with under-5 mortality cases. The deaths, he said were selected out of which 31 per cent (974) are neonates while 69 per cent (2,241) are children, spreading across the country. He instructively remarked 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. The NPC boss called for a purposeful intervention and programmes from all concerned to reduce under-5 mortality in Nigeria, adding that the 2019 VASA survey is the second in the series, after the maiden edition that was conducted by the commission in 2014 which involved selected households across the country. The event which held physically and virtually on the November 6, 2020 at several locations commenced with the Federal Ministry of Health, Abuja, National Planning Commission Auditorium as well as Shehu Musa Yar'Adua Centre, Abuja

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