Nation Marks Huge Drop in Infant Deaths

Nairobi — Kenya has made significant progress in reducing child mortality, with the latest statistics showing that childhood deaths have declined by 30 percent in the last five years.

This accounts for a reduction of 34,000 child deaths every year.

The Kenya Demographic Health Survey 2014 attributes this largely to family planning, better child feeding practices, malaria and HIV control and immunization.

“The infant mortality rate decreased to 39 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014 from 52 in 2008-09. Similarly, the under-five mortality rate decreased to 52 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014 from 74 in 2008-09. The trend implies that the increase in mortality seen in the surveys conducted in the 1990s is indeed reversing,” reads the survey which was undertaken from May 2014 to October 2014.

It was undertaken to provide information to address the planning, programme implementation, monitoring, and evaluation needs of health, family planning, and HIV/AIDS programmes.

“The improvement in child survival could be attributed to increases in mosquito net use among children and by improvements in maternal health including, increases in the proportion of births assisted by a skilled provider and delivered in a health facility and increases in postnatal care. Each of these has been shown to reduce child mortality.”

Other notable achievements include halving the prevalence of underweight children under five years of age due to better infant feeding practices.

Comparison of the 2008-09 KDHS nutrition data with that from 2014 indicates an overall improvement in nutritional status of children in Kenya.

Stunting has decreased from 35 percent to 26 percent. Wasting has also declined from 7 percent to 4 percent in 2014, and the proportion of underweight children declined from 16 percent to 11 percent.

The report further states that 59 percent of Kenyan households own at least one mosquito net which translates to over half of all children under five, and half of all pregnant women sleep under a mosquito net every night.

Delivery in health facilities increased to 61 percent, up from 43 percent in 2008/9, while 80 percent of women and 71 percent of men have been tested for HIV.