VANUATU HEALTH SURVEY TO IMPROVE PLANNING DATA

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Information can help country reach MDGs

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post, June 8, 2009) – Good data is the key to good planning in any country— a valuable tool that policy makers can refer to in their decision-making. United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) representative Dr Isiye Ndombi said this when Minister for Health Joe Natuman launched the Multi-Indicator Cluster survey last Thursday in Port Vila.

Such an important information will be used by the government and development partners to bringing Vanuatu closer to achieving its Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and strengthen programmes for the benefit of children.

It is the result of a Vt37million [US$356, 000] two-month survey covering 2,632 households of which 2,692 were women respondents aged between 15 and 49 years and 1,634 under five children funded by UNICEF in 2007.

In stressing the importance of good data Natuman said: "We need information and data to help us plan and great data is useless if you can’t share it, or use it to justify and support our stand on an issue close to heart. Data representation is the difference between having an effective report versus a bunch of useless information.

"Understanding how information and data connects only increases our ability to link information, performance, and strategy more effectively for our country.

"Let us use the information from the survey to formulate policies that are child-centered. Policies, for instance, that will enable children to have an adequate standard of living with access to clean and safe drinking water and free education."

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Representative, Dr Isiye Ndombi congratulated the government for being the first state in the Pacific to undertake a MICS survey that provides valuable information specifically on the country’s children and women.

"UNICEF looks forward to the release of this information which will help your government and its development partners tailor our activities to achieve national and international goals such as the MDGs and World Fit for Children (WFFC) goals," he said.

The report contains vast information on the status of children in general and specifically in education, health, water access and use, sanitation, child protection, child development and knowledge of HIV and AIDS.

UNICEF Chief of Field Office May Pascal said the major objectives of the survey were to provide up-to-date information for assessing the situation of children and women in Vanuatu and furnish data needed for monitoring progress towards national development goals (Priority Agenda for Action) for children, the national children’s policy, the MDGs and WFFC.

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