You are currently viewing Infant mortality rate in Zambia

Infant mortality rate in Zambia

INFANT mortality rate is the vital indicator with the greatest disparity between developed and developing countries. A maternal death review is an in-depth investigation of the causes and circumstances surrounding infant deaths.
Measuring infant mortality is notoriously difficult for both conceptual and practical reasons. The currently available approaches are complex, resource intensive and imprecise and the results they yield are often misleading.
The challenging nature of measuring infant mortality to perform an action-oriented means of gathering information on where, how and why deaths are occurring and what action has been taken and is yet to be taken.
Assessing the impact of preventive measures demands exact knowledge about how many lives were saved. Often the answer to the why is not a simple one. Death may occur as a result of related events rather than a single factor. Answering the why question thus requires a systematic review of each maternal death in order to find information on events surrounding the deaths.
Levels of infant mortality rates in Zambia’s rural areas are unacceptably high and are ranked among the highest in Africa. A review on the online Zambian messenger estimated the rates at 1,050 per 100,000 live births and are higher in rural than in urban areas.
Obstetric causes of infant deaths in Zambia are well documented but little attention is paid to the contributing factors. In order to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) of reducing maternal mortality, children’s access to good quality health care embedded in a human rights framework is an important factor.
Access to emergency obstetric care and better social status of women and children are two elements that may contribute significantly towards this goal. Site-specific information may be key to policy change and action, even if the general causes of continued high infant mortality rates are well known.
According to UNICEF in Zambia, 591 maternal deaths occur per 100,000 live births while the infant, neonatal and under-five mortality rates are at 70, 34, and 119 per 1,000 live births, respectively.
These mortality rates are unacceptably high. The major causes of child mortality are malaria, respiratory infections, diarrhoea, malnutrition, and anaemia. HIV and AIDS is increasingly contributing to morbidity and mortality in children. Malnutrition has also been on the increase, attributed to the worsening poverty levels and increase in food insecurity, as well as suboptimal infant and young child feeding practices.
According to statistics, 70 percent of the population are food insecure and 45 percent of children are stunted. Fifteen percent of children are underweight and five percent wasted. These rates are among the highest in the region. There is also a general critical deficiency of micro-nutrients (iodine, iron, and Vitamin A), among both children and expecting mothers.
Mavis Mulenga, a Grade 11, at Lusaka Secondary School said the adage that children are future leaders is slowly losing its value taking into account infant deaths which poses a serious danger to the future of our country.
“If children are the future, they should be given a chance to start their life at birth”, Mavis says.
It is there for very important that government puts in enough funds in the health sector to improve and better the heath standards for children. It is a shame that in this day and age infant mortality still exist.
The author of this article, Gabriel Phiri is a member of the Children’s News Agency (CNA) Lusaka Bureau.