Researcher urges govts to implement programmes to lessen child mortality

Dr Micheal Kunnuji, a researcher and data analyst at the University of Lagos has urged governments at all levels to implement more of programmes targeted at reducing child mortality.

Kunnuji, a lead Qualitative Researcher, 2019 Verbal and Social Autopsy (VASA) Study, said this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Abuja.







VASA study is a study on the collation of data on the verbal and social causes of symptoms and deaths of under-five children.

He, however, encouraged policy makers and governments to interrogate with the data, saying“ in the report we have some policy implications.

“It is important that policy makers read the report and use the recommendations to improve health outcome for children.







“We intend to make our children live; we want to improve health outcome of children in Nigeria, children are dyeing and we hope to stop it.’’

Kunnuji told NAN that some of the findings from the qualitative component of the VASA study showed that common health beliefs of people about diseases had implications for child survival in Nigeria.







He said it was found among mothers interviewed and communities visited that the convictions people held about causes of illness and efficacious healthcare options had serious implications for children care and survival across Nigeria.

The expert, however, listed some of those beliefs as spiritual illness, fatalism, health beliefs and illnesses that do not respond to modern medicine.

According to him, some caregivers, community members and some healthcare providers hold on to beliefs that orthodox medicine is ineffective in treating some ailments in children.







“When people hold that kind of belief, the implication is that once they sense disease in their children, they will rather use tradition medicine than visit formal health facilities.

“We know that herbal medicine has its strength; we also need more research to strengthen the challenge of measurement and standardisation in herbal medicine.

“Belief that orthodox medicine is not efficacious prevents caregiver from taking their children to the hospital.’’







Kunnuji said some caregivers had fatalistic belief, explaining fatalism as a conviction that God determines who lives and dies, regardless of treatment.

“They believe that in respective of what you do with a child, if he or she is destined to live, it will happen, and if he is destined to die, there is nothing they can do.’’








Also, he said some had syncretic health beliefs, which means that proper diagnosis could be achieved through traditional medicine and treatment can be done using orthodox medicine.

“For that reason, many caregivers will prepare to start treatment with traditional medicine so that, in their wards, the traditional medicine can help bring out all the ailments they want to treat with orthodox medicine.

“But as we know, sometimes the time spent trying tradition medicine is that time needed to address the health problem early so they miss out on that timely care.’’








He explained further that some caregivers believed that some symptoms could only be treated traditionally and modern medicine was considered dangerous or even fatal in these cases.

Kunnuji said VASA study was informed by the need to better estimate the causes of under- five deaths in Nigeria, noting that deaths were not properly register in low and medium countries.








` `Also births are not recorded properly and for that reason, policy makers, programmers cannot reliably tell what the causes of deaths are.






“It is important in the absence of reliable statistics that you have a VASA Study and estimate the causes of child deaths.

“ The qualitative part of the study was designed to help us understand those contextual and non- biomedical issues in child birth and address them,’’ he said. (NAN)

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