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UNICEF: Slow Progress Made In Nigeria’s Child Health Indices


On Tuesday, the Federal Government launched the 2021 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MICS) and National Immunisation Coverage Survey (NICS) report, which showed that Nigeria has made slow progress in the child health indices.

The MICS and NICS, which both provide reliable nationwide and internationally comparable data to monitor the situation of children and women in Nigeria, revealed that the exclusive breastfeeding rate had increased from 24 to 34 percent, while approximately 60 percent of Nigerian children are now registered at birth with the civil authorities.

The MICS result were launched by Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo and revealed that the rate of child mortality had decreased from 1 in 8 children dying before their fifth birthday (MICS 2016) to 1 in 10 children (MICS 2021).

According to the report, there has also been significant progress in exclusive breastfeeding and birth registration rates, and child marriage (women married before age 18) which has reduced from 44 percent to 30 percent since 2016.

Speaking on the report, the Statistician-General of the Federation/CEO National Bureau of Statistics Prince Adeyemi Adeniran said: “The 2021 Nigeria MICS-NICS report provides evidence-based data for all key stakeholders to prioritise quality services for children and women with higher efficiency and effectiveness. The information collated will inform policies aimed at social inclusion of the most vulnerable population, help identify disparities, and allow for international comparability.”

Adeniran said as the country builds back better from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the MICS-NICS survey provides evidence to shape interventions and focus resources in a way that helps children and their families reach their full potential.

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“Using the data to monitor progress towards our collective commitments to children and families, and inform future action is critical if we must leave no one behind.”

Peter Hawkins, a Representative from UNICEF, noted that data was critical for effective budgeting, and decision-making; the data from these surveys together paint a picture of the situation for children and families in Nigeria.

“The picture is a mixed one. While there has been some good progress, and we should celebrate that – we still have a long way to go towards ensuring the well-being of children in Nigeria. The findings of this survey will help guide the federal and state governments as they plan their budgets – providing evidence for where more support and funds need to be wisely allocated and utilised.”

The MICS is a household survey that was developed by UNICEF to assist countries in filling data gaps for monitoring human development indicators in general and the situation of children and women, in particular. Over the years, it has evolved to respond to changing data needs, expanding from 28 indicators in the first round in 1999 to 200 in its current sixth.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) implemented the MICS to provide data on child mortality, health, nutrition, education, child and social protection, women’s health care and empowerment, water, sanitation, and hygiene while the NICS assesses vaccination coverage provided through the health systems.

First-time indicators include social transfer, home energy use, child functioning, and foundational learning skills.

Additionally, the survey measures the progress of the government toward the SDGs and national commitments.