Child Mortality and Health in Africa
Collins O. Opiyo1, Vincent Otieno, Michael J. Levin
1Population and Social Statistics Directorate, Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Nairobi, Kenya; 2population Studies and research Institute, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya; 3Havard Center for Population and Development Studies, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA, United States

Africa is standing at a demographic window of opportunity owing to contemporary changes in population dynamics, which can potentially result in huge welfare dividends if properly navigated through relevant population and development policies and programs. An attempt at deeper insights readily raises several policy-relevant research questions: What are the trends in mortality and health in Africa? Is Africa likely to achieve the MDGs on mortality and health, among others? Will Africa's mortality and health evolution – when launched – follow the tenets of the classical epidemiologic transition models? What factors will trigger it? Will there be similarities – at least across nations? What are the (universal?) determinants of mortality and health in Africa?

To answer these questions, at least partially, requires an in-depth study of levels, trends and patterns of mortality and health in Africa. Because vital registration systems are inadequate and demographic data are limited and defective in Africa, especially sub-Saharan, researchers rely on indirect approaches to provide childhood mortality estimates. The Brass technique is the most widely used procedure for this purpose, often with census data. However, the two fundamental assumptions of the technique – of constant fertility in the recent past and mother-child mortality independence – are currently violable owing to the significant contemporary changes in population dynamics, including the impact of HIV/AIDS.

This study, therefore, focuses on obtaining new and robust estimates of childhood mortality using census data and methods that circumvent these violable assumptions. It uses an alternative method proposed by Preston and Palloni to estimate childhood mortality levels and trends from census data.

This will contribute towards developing a universal population and development framework which will not only aid the monitoring and evaluation of population and health policies and programs, but will further the cause of policy-oriented research.

Keywords: Childhood; Mortality; Africa; Health

Biography: i hold a PhD, MPhil and MA in Demography, and BSc in mathematics and physics. Currently, i am the director for population and social statistics at the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics. My research interests include the interplay between social dimensions and childhood mortality and fertility dynamics in in sub-saharan Africa. My key achievements include planning and executing the 1999 and 2009 Kenyan population censuses, participation in the production of national poverty strategy paper, and compilation of poverty maps for kenya. I have also (co-)authored several papers presented in various workshops. The most recent paper was on Kenya's past and present population dynamics and its implications for socio-economic development.