Amidst significant improvement made in the Nigerian healthcare sector, in the last five years, the newly released Nigerian Demographic Health Survey (NDHS) 2018, has shown that there are still lots of grounds to cover, as one in eight Nigerian children dies prior to its fifth birthday.
The Survey, which was released on Tuesday in Abuja by the National Population Commission showed a rate of 132 deaths per 1,000 live births in the five-year reporting period, with more than one in three children stunted. The UNICEF estimates that approximately a quarter of these deaths could be prevented through routine immunization.
It revealed progress in some areas – such as increased levels of breastfeeding and decreased incidence of malaria, child vaccination, with about 31 percent of children under two received all eight vaccines of the basic package, up from 13 percent in 2003, and nearly three in 10 children under six months are exclusively breastfed, up from 17 percent during the last survey.
However, even with this improvement recorded, coverage of routine childhood vaccines remains lower than global benchmarks.
Speaking on the findings of the Survey, U.S. Charge d’affaires Kathleen FitzGibbon said despite some good news, the Survey also highlights many challenges Nigeria still faces, while she called for proper harnessing of the findings to improve the health of the citizen. “This data can help improve the health of families and communities throughout Nigeria”, she stated.
She further expressed the interest of the United States Government in the proper handling of the data obtained from the Survey, as she disclosed that the U.S through the Agency for International Development (USAID), invested over $8 million of the Survey’s $13 million cost. “The U.S. has invested in the quinquennial survey because data and evidence are the cornerstones of all successful development programs – especially in health”, she added.
Findings from the Survey further revealed that two thirds of pregnant women received antenatal care, and 40% of deliveries were assisted by a skilled provider, remains low by international standards, the uptick testifies that government efforts – especially funding of the Basic Health Care Provision Fund – are making progress in improving access to maternal health services.
The report reads in part: “About 61 per cent of Nigerian households own at least one insecticide-treated net to prevent malaria, and 52 per cent of respondents said their children slept under one, significantly up from 17 per cent in 2013. Malaria prevalence declined from 42 per cent in 2010 to 23 per cent among children under five; suggesting government programmes –managed in adherence with international treatment guidelines – are helping make Nigeria’s children and families stronger and healthier.
For the first time, the 2018 NDHS provides information on anaemia prevalence among children and adults, malaria prevalence among children, sickle cell disease, as well as disability, showing that 2 percent of Nigerian men and women report at least one physical or cognitive impairment”.
Commenting on the Survey report during its launch, President Muhamadu Buhari has said that the launch of the Survey report would bring together key line Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Development Partners, National and International Non-Governmental Organisations. He urged relevant government agencies to factor the findings of the Survey into policy formulation and health intervention programmes.
The president, who was represented by the Minister of Health, Dr Osagie Ehanire, at the launch, recently in Abuja, said the first survey conducted in 1991, was used to measure progress of Nigeria’s health interventions and progress in the areas of mortality indices for Women, infants and children, as well as other related human and social development indices, such as skilled birth attendance, antenatal care coverage, contraceptive and many others.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Cabinet office, Dr. Tunde Lawan, stated that the thematic areas of coverage of the study are in line with the vision of Buhari, aimed at improving health care and lifting 100 million people out of poverty in the next 10 years and deploying the population of the country as asset for development.
Dr Tunde Lawan noted that the indicators from the report covers areas like Fertility, family Planning among married women within the age of 15-49, Maternal Health Care among women within the age of 15-49, Child Health, Nutrition, Child Mortality; death per 1,000lives birth, Malaria, Domestic Violence among age 15-49 and Female Genital Cuttings.