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Childhood mortality in sub-Saharan Africa: cross-sectional insight into small-scale geographical inequalities from Census data
  1. Lawrence Kazembe1,
  2. Aileen Clarke2,
  3. Ngianga-Bakwin Kandala2,3
  1. 1Department of Statistics, University of Namibia, Windhoek, Namibia
  2. 2Division of Health Sciences, University of Warwick, Warwick Medical School, Coventry, Warks, UK
  3. 3Malaria Public Health and Epidemiology Group, Centre for Geographic Medicine, KEMRI-University of Oxford-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Programme, Nairobi, Kenya
  1. Correspondence to Dr Kandala Ngianga-Bakwin; N-B.Kandala{at}warwick.ac.uk

Abstract

Objectives To estimate and quantify childhood mortality, its spatial correlates and the impact of potential correlates using recent census data from three sub-Saharan African countries (Rwanda, Senegal and Uganda), where evidence is lacking.

Design Cross-sectional.

Setting Nation-wide census samples from three African countries participating in the 2010 African Census round. All three countries have conducted recent censuses and have information on mortality of children under 5 years.

Participants 111 288 children under the age of 5 years in three countries.

Primary and secondary outcome measures Under-five mortality was assessed alongside potential correlates including geographical location (where children live), and environmental, bio-demographic and socioeconomic variables.

Results Multivariate analysis indicates that in all three countries the overall risk of child death in the first 5 years of life has decreased in recent years (Rwanda: HR=0.04, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.09; Senegal: HR=0.02 (95% CI 0.02 to 0.05); Uganda: HR=0.011 (95% CI 0.006 to 0.018). In Rwanda, lower deaths were associated with living in urban areas (0.79, 0.73, 0.83), children with living mother (HR=0.16, 95% CI 0.15 to 0.17) or living father (HR=0.38, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.39). Higher death was associated with male children (HR=1.06, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.08) and Christian children (HR=1.14, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.27). Children less than 1 year were associated with higher risk of death compared to older children in the three countries. Also, there were significant spatial variations showing inequalities in children mortality by geographic location. In Uganda, for example, areas of high risk are in the south-west and north-west and Kampala district showed a significantly reduced risk.

Conclusions We provide clear evidence of considerable geographical variation of under-five mortality which is unexplained by factors considered in the data. The resulting under-five mortality maps can be used as a practical tool for monitoring progress within countries for the Millennium Development Goal 4 to reduce under-five mortality in half by 2015.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial License, which permits use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, the use is non commercial and is otherwise in compliance with the license. See: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/ and http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode.

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