Child mortality rates decrease

By Drum Digital
25 February 2016

According to the Institute of Race Relations (IRR), there has been a decrease in child mortality rates in South Africa, which indicates improved child health in the country.

By Ayanda Sitole

The IRR found that the under-five mortality rate had declined from 77,2 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2002, to 45,1 deaths in 2015.

The deaths of infants under the age of one declined from 51,2 deaths per 1 000 live births in 2002, to 34,4 deaths in 2015.

Access to healthcare services (especially immunisation programmes), malnutrition and poor living conditions were identified as three of the leading contributors to child deaths.

Research shows that the immunisation rates have steadily increased in South Africa.

In 2001, 67 % of children under the age of one were immunised. This increased to 89,8 % in 2014.

The rollout of social grants has also been considered as a prevention of child deaths.

Social grant beneficiaries as a percentage of the total national population increased from 9 % in 2001, to 30 % in 2015.

From 2001 to 2014, severe malnutrition rates among children younger than five years old dropped from 12,5 per 1 000 children to 4,5 per 1 000 children.

Gerbrandt Van Heerden, researcher at IRR, say although the figures are encouraging, South Africa still has a high infant mortality rate compared to other emerging markets and the developed world.

“Data from the World Bank shows that the under-five mortality rate in Germany was 3,9 deaths for every 1 000 live births, while our Brics partner, Brazil, had an under-five mortality rate of 13,7 per 1 000 children in 2013,” he says,

“South African policymakers still have some way to go in ensuring that our child health indicators reach global norms. Better public healthcare services are part of the solution but rising economic growth and employment levels will do just as much, if not more, to improve the conditions of South Africa’s children.”

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