An assessment of the quality of neonatal mortality data
Mwaila, Margaret Mambori
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Although there has been a reduction in childhood mortality globally, sub Saharan Africa has realized a very slow improvement. Neonatal mortality in Kenya has shown very little improvement over the 20 year period. Over the years, health statistics measurement is gaining currency in terms of reporting returns on investments, impact of interventions and planning. Major challenges with regard to data quality still remain: first, lack of complete and function vital registration system which ensures up to date collection of data. Second, due to cultural attachments and ignorance of legal requirements, early neonatal deaths may go unreported. Total omission of births and deaths of neonates is definite given the positive correlation between death of a mother and her child which leads to underestimation of child mortality. Age heaping at day 7 and 14 are commonplace. This is especially important as it distorts estimates of early neonate deaths. Generally, errors in non-reporting of neonate deaths have serious ramifications with regard to socio-economic and development planning. The main objective of this study is to assess the quality of neonatal mortality data from all KDHS data (1989 - 2008-09) and document impacts and improvements realised. This study will focus on errors in reporting neonate births and deaths, omissions of neonatal deaths, displacement of events in time and documentation of trends over the study period. The sample size comprises 39,560 respondents experiencing 28,654 births and 830 neonate deaths. The information is compiled from responses from women or reproductive age experiencing an event over a five-year period prior to a KDHS. Use was made of descriptive statistics to show associations and differentials. Using data from five year periods preceding a subsequent survey, this study found that completeness of information on neonate births and deaths has been vibrant (over 95% reporting). However, births are more likely to be reported than deaths. Sex ratios at death seem to be overreported especially for male neonates. Heaping at days 7 and 14 is evident while deaths are generally misreported. To achieve MDG 4 and indeed to ensure quality neonate data, Kenya needs to invest most appropriately in quality data collection systems in order to inform interventions aimed at reducing reporting error.