This blog is intended to go along with Population: An Introduction to Concepts and Issues, by John R. Weeks, published by Cengage Learning. The latest edition is the 13th (it will be out in January 2020), but this blog is meant to complement any edition of the book by showing the way in which demographic issues are regularly in the news.

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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Preventable Child Deaths Contribute to Global Mortality Levels

The health and mortality transition continues to move in the direction of people dying at older ages from degenerative diseases (albeit with some of these having roots in infectious diseases). But a new report in The Lancet by researchers at The Johns Hopkins University reminds us that children are still dying in large numbers and most of these deaths are preventable. BBC News covers the story.

The team from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health looked at data from a range of sources, including household surveys and registration systems for 193 countries. Mathematical modelling was used where data was incomplete.
They found child deaths had fallen by two million (26%) since 2000, and there have been significant reductions in leading causes of death including diarrhoea and measles - as well as pneumonia.
But they say there are still significant challenges.
They found two-thirds of the 7.6m children who died before their fifth birthday did so due to infectious causes - and pneumonia was found to be the leading cause of death. 
Five countries (India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Democratic Republic of Congo and China) accounted for almost half (3.75m) of deaths in children under five.

Of course, two of those five are in sub-Saharan Africa, where half of child deaths occurred, two-thirds (2.6m) of which were due to infectious causes, including malaria and AIDS. Preventing these child deaths may encourage couples to have fewer children, although that results is by means assured. Thus, we need to work to prevent these deaths at the same time that we work to provide the motivation and means for couples to limit fertility.

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