A consultant Pediatrician, Prof. Wammanda Robinson, has called for political commitment to implement child survival strategies.
This is contained in the just-released 2019 Verbal and Social Autopsy, VASA Study.
VASA study is a study on the collation of data on the verbal and social causes of symptoms and deaths of under-five children.
Robinson, a professor of pediatrics at the Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital, Zaria made the call in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Thursday in Abuja.
“What we need is political commitment because Nigeria has the resources to implement all the child survival strategies to the latter but the most important thing is political commitment.
“We need to have appropriate number of health workers and we need to ensure that we have functioning equipment.
“We need to make sure that all the necessary trainings are taking place, all these have to happen when you have political commitment.
“They are poor countries that are achieving reduction in child mortality, compared to Nigeria that is so rich.’’
According to him, Nigeria has a lot of strategies but lacked the political will to implement the strategies to the latter.
“If we implement the strategies, we will properly forget about child mortality.
“ The main problem is implementing our child survival strategies that are what you will see in the VASA study report.’’
Robinson told NAN that some of the findings from the quantitative component of the VASA study showed that bacterial infections were the leading causes of death in children.
According to him, the survey used physician-coded verbal-coded verbal Autopsy and Expert Algorithm Verbal Autopsy methods in the quantitative method of VASA.
Meanwhile, the summary of the findings of VASA study obtained from the Federal Ministry of Health, stated that several bacterial infections (sepsis, pneumonia and meningitis accounted for the largest portion of neonatal deaths.
A neonatal death (also called a newborn death) is when a baby dies during the first 28 days of life.
The report revealed that bacterial infections accounted for 44 per cent of neonatal deaths by both physician coding and expert algorithm methods.
“Intrapartum injury, formally called “birth asphyxia/birth trauma was the second major cause, accounting for 27 per cent of neonatal deaths.
“Pre-term birth in verbal autopsy was mostly treated as an underlying contributor to deaths.
“It is an important risk factor and World Health Organisation (WHO) models attributed 30 per cent of Nigeria’s neonatal deaths to this condition.
“ VASA found out that 24 per cent of neonatal deaths in the Nigerian Demographic Health Surveys (NDHS) 2018 were stillbirths on further questioning.
“Many stillbirths occurred during labour and delivery and so were similar to intrapartum injury,’’ it stated.
For causes of deaths of children from ages one to 59 months, the report stated that malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia were the top cases of deaths for children under the category.
“It said that the finding was similar to the 2014 VASA and global models of child mortality, while the remaining deaths in this age group were also from infections.
“Signs of malnutrition were common in the VASA study, but this was mostly treated as an underlying contributor rather than as cause of death.
“The WHO estimates that malnutrition contributes to 45 per cent of under-five deaths,’’
According to the report, Nigeria’s high neonatal and child mortality in comparison to other countries in Africa is not due to different diseases but higher rates of death from the same diseases.
The report, however, suggested routine immunisations and malaria prevention programmes to address home and community factors causing neonatal deaths.
“It stated that it was important that difficult or complicated cases should be referred to higher level facilities to improve complicated case management.
“It was also important to introduce innovative context- specific interventions to spread health-promoting beliefs.’’
In addition, the report recommended that primary care facilities and basic health programmes would need increased investment and adequate staffing in line with the 15 per cent budgetary allocation in Abuja declaration.
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