Public Health

Great News from Africa: Child Mortality Rates Plummeting


From the Center for Global Development's web site:

New statistics show that the rate of child death across sub-Saharan Africa is not just in decline—but that decline has massively accelerated, just in the last few years. From the middle to the end of the last decade, rates of child mortality across the continent plummeted much faster than they ever had before.

These shocking new numbers are in a paper released today by Gabriel Demombynes and Karina Trommlerová in the Kenya office of the World Bank…

This is a stunningly rapid decline, and nothing like it was occurring even as recently as the first half of the decade. For comparison, the Millennium Development Goal of a 2/3 decline in child mortality between 1990 and 2015 translates into a 1.6 percent annual decline in child mortality. In other words, the above countries are successfully reducing child mortality at an annual rate quadruple the rate called for by the Millennium Development Goals. They are doing this across hundreds of millions of people, across a vast landscape of hundreds of thousands of villages and cities.

The full World Bank study.

Reason on Africa.

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Fist of Etiquette for reminding me I should really have called attention to this line from the World Bank study summary: "A Oaxaca-Blinder decomposition using Demographic and Health Survey data shows that the increased ownership of insecticide-treated bednets in endemic malaria zones explains 39 percent of the decline in postneonatal mortality and 58 percent of the decline in infant mortality." We have written about the marvelous advantages of malaria reduction here at Reason for a long time.

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  1. I blame Bush.

  2. Hey farmer, farmer, put away the DDT now. Give me spots on my apples , but leave me the malaria, please!

    1. Chemicals are bad mkay

      1. Iodine, I’m looking at you.

    2. Joni and I were delighted to help, I’m sure.

  3. Wonder if this has anything to do with the horror of vaccinating the children? Does Jenny McCarthy have a comment?

    1. “I’m a fucking idiot. But Almanian would do me anyway.” – Jenny McCarthy

      1. I don’t think I could follow Jim Carrey.

  4. Is this necessarily good news? Is their agriculture advanced enough to sustain these additional children?

    1. Yes, it is necessarily good news. Fewer dead kids is always and everywhere good news. At least now they have a chance.

      1. a chance to live long enough to starve isn’t much of a chance.

        1. What RC Dean said. Life is always better than non-life. And famine is political. We can feed double that growth now if we wanted to.

          1. I’m unconvinced.

            1. Famine is caused by politicians not allowing the free market to deliver food to where it is wanted, not by a lack of food.
              Often times famine is accompanied by mountains of rotting food, sitting there thanks to the action or inaction of central planning despots.

              1. sorry, I accept the famine-as-politcal-hijinx, it was still the basic premise that more children surviving birth is an unquestionable good that I remain unconvinced of.

                Issac’s point that I responded to below got me about halfway to being convinced.

                1. it was still the basic premise that more children surviving birth is an unquestionable good that I remain unconvinced of.

                  I don’t see it having an effect on my life either way, so I really don’t care.

                  1. I don’t see it having an effect on my life either way, so I really don’t care.

                    As soon as this thread dies, I will also go back to my life of never-giving-two-shits-about-Africa. and Asia. Europe, South America…sorry, I should have just said “Everywhere Else” from the start.

            2. fried, you’re seriously taking the position that a certain death of disease as an infant is better than the chance of starving later?

              1. does the infant posses enough self-awareness to experience its suffering to the same degree as a starving 5yr-old?

                1. Who cares? Its a dying person. I’m not terribly interested in chopping fine distinctions.

          2. Dyin’ ain’t much of a living, boy

            1. I gots to know.

          3. What RC said. It takes a huge investment and risk to make a baby. If you lose one, it’s a huge loss. Also, if there is a high risk of losing one, then you need to make a lot to have a margin for error. Childhood mortality causes overpopulation.

        2. Just a guess, but I tend to think that lower infant mortality rates means healthier mothers and, to a lesser extent, possibly, fathers. I infer further from that that the infants’ chances of surviving into adulhood are likewise better.

          Of course there’s a long way to go in terms of improving health outcomes.

          If all foreign aid went to water supply and sanition projects and to vaccinations it would probably produce far better results than it does now. And it would probably put foreign aid even further down the lists of problems I have with current US spending.

          1. I infer further from that that the infants’ chances of surviving into adulhood are likewise better.

            I’m less unconvinced.

            1. Glad to be of assistance. 🙂

              I admit that my post was so much ex rectum speculation I do find there is much to be glad about here.

              Like you, I also see reasons to be less than sanguine here. But I see it as a glass half full/half empty situation. I tend to see the bright side of children getting to survive childbirth and infancy.

      2. Human beings are a cancer on Mother Earth.

        1. I agree, the science is settled on this issue.

    2. The food-supply situation is already FUBAR in most of Africa. Foreign food aid drives down prices of locally grown staples, which incentivizes farmers to grow crops for export. Kleptocratic regimes play politics with hunger – cynically interfering with aid shipments to their internal enemies while simultaneously blackmailing rich nations with their hungry populaces.

      And all those extra people means more carbon from cook fires and coal power plants, which is going to cause the greenies to insist on reductions in emissions from rich nations.

  5. So I can save my donation to “Save The Children” and use it for a new monocle-polishing kit.


    1. There’s no need to spend money on a kit.

      I’ll cheerfully polish your monacle.

      1. I’ll cheerfully polish clean your monocle.

        I’m adding this to my list of pet peeves. polishing modifies the surface. Unless you’re busting out a soft cloth and some ultrafine abrasive, you aren’t polishing a glass lens.

        1. I apologize for imprecision, but it was the act of stroking that I was trying to evoke.

          1. Also – ew!

            That is all.

        2. Speak for yourself, prole. I’m polishing the gilt FRAME to a high gleam.

          As one who has been forced – by dint of horrible vision – to wear spectacles since the second grade, and who is absolutely blind without them, I KNOW whereof I speak when it comes to vision-enhancing devices.

          So – I am, indeed, looking for a nice kit to POLISH my monocle. The frame, anyway.

          Now run along and bring us another serving of Babyfingers and Immigrants’ blood, won’t you?

          1. fair enough, as long as you’ve got teh skillz. Otherwise you’re just marring the finish.

    2. But clearly the lowered supply of starving children’s tears will drive the price of the polishing compound waaay up.

      1. The decreased number of starving children doesn’t mean that production of their tears will be down. We just have to make sure that the industry drives efficiency by making them suffer more. After all, isn’t that what Libertopia is all about?

        1. I like the cut of your job, Alack

          1. Which reminds me – who decided that the “i” key goes right next to the “o” key on the ‘murcan/Engrish keyboard, anyway? So easy to make a mistake because of that. SO easy…

            1. Quot yiur botching and just f’n priifread, niib.

              1. You mistyped ‘botchong’. Easy mistake to make…

  6. It’s awfully rare for a Reason story to give me some semblance of hope for the future, but this one did. Now I just need to stop reading the internet forever, I guess.

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