The socio-economic differentials of infant and child mortality in Kenya
The economic cost of a prematurely terminated life is considerable if looked from the point of nutritional, health and medical resources spent on the child. Despite the rapid population growth in Kenya, its mortality rates are still very high when compared to some of the developed world. The thrust of the study therefore was to investigate infant and child mortality in Kenya by the socioeconomic, environmental, health, and demographic variables of the mother. The objectives of the study were to estimate infant and child mortality levels in Kenya by socio-economic, environmental, health and demographic factors at the national and provincial levels respectively, and to compare these results with the Kenya demographic and health survey 1989 results. The data used was the (KDHS) survey of 1993 carried out by the National Council for population and Development (NCPD) in collaboration with the Kenya Central Bureau of statistics (CBS). The study was restricted to 7,540 women aged between 15-49. The study used the Trussell's technique to estimate the levels of infant and child mortality by the various socio-economic, environmental, health and demographic factors. However; some limitations do exist that beset the study. The use of secondary data in itself was a limitation and involved errors of non-coverage, under reporting and age heaping. Moreover, the reliability of mortality estimates calculated from retrospective birth histories depends much upon the completeness with which deaths are reported and to which birth rates' and ages at death are accurately recorded, while misreporting of age at death may distort the age pattern of mortal ity. Another limitation of the study is that it did not consider all the variables undertaken by the KDHS, 1993 survey. This was due to some measurement issues. The method of analysis applied here has its own assumptions to be met and some weaknesses and limitations and therefore could not be applied to some of the variables. Thus, the interpretation of the results may be affected by the above stated problems. The study found that certain socio-economic factors had an association with infant and child mortality levels. Mothers who had attained secondary and above level of education had lower mortality experience relative to their counterpart. The study also found that mothers who lived in urban centres experienced lower infant and child mortality compared to those who lived in rural areas. The study further found that environmental factors had an association with the levels of infant and child mortal ity. Households with flush toilets experienced. lower mortality than households using bush, pit or other toilet facilities. Also households whose source of drinking water was either rivers, ponds, lakes and streams were found to experience higher mortality levels than households using water from the taps. The study also found that maternal/health factors had an association with infant and child mortality levels. Mothers who had received tetanus toxoid injection before the birth of their first child experienced lower mortality than mothers who did not receive the toxoid injection before the birth of the first child. Also mothers in monogamous unions were found to experience lower mortality than those in polygamous unions. The provincial analysis was dor e with several aims. Most importantly was to show some of the variation in relationships between variables in different provinces. The findings showed distinct variation among the seven provinces. Central province was found to have the lowest mortality levels in the country, followed by Rift valley province. On the other hand, Nyanza, Coast and Western provinces experienced tile highest mortality levels while Nairobi and Eastern provinces lay midway between these two extremes. In conclusion, the study recommends that for any tangible policy aimed at reducing infant and child mortality in Kenya, the focus should be on improving maternal education past the level of secondary school, policies that entail cheap housing, and improved drinking water. The study further recommends the intensification of immunization coverage, and public education on the need to have a smaller family. But above all, the first priority must focus on the high mortality areas.
xmlui.dri2xhtml.METS-1.0.item-description-sponsorshipUniversity of Nairobi
Department of Population Studies & Research Institute, University of Nairobi
Kenya Demographic Health Survey (KDHS)