6 Reduce child mortality
Where are we?
Child mortality has shown a steady improvement recently with under-5 mortality falling from 63.3/1000 live births in 2002 to 44.7 in 2011 and infant mortality rates (IMR) at 38.5/1000 live births (World Bank). Despite this improvement, IMR in Azerbaijan is more than two times higher than upper middle-income countries average. There are differences between official statistics and independent surveys attributed to the poor performance of the routine statistical system but more significantly to the “live birth” definition currently used. This creates many problems as the real magnitude of child mortality is not determined and interventions are not introduced accordingly.
Neonatal deaths account for half of all infant deaths. Many of these children are born live but with symptoms of life other than breathing, in this instance they are not even recognized as live births and are not given any care to help them survive. The reasons behind this are possibly lack of resuscitation and neonatal care skills among health workers as well as lack of adequate facilities to care for the newborn in addition to the tendency to conceal infant deaths fearing penalization.
According to official statistics, diarrhoeal diseases and acute respiratory infections are the main causes of infant morbidity and mortality. Poor nutritional status is also one of the major underlying causes of child mortality with one out of every 10 infants born with low birth weight and 13% of under-5s stunted. Vitamin A deficiency which has been linked to lowered immunity and morbidity in infants is also seen in 75% of these children. Anemia is widespread and iron deficiency, the main cause of anemia, is considered to be near universal among women and children.
To continue progress towards improving infant and child health, the emphasis should be given to Improving access and utilization of health care services, with a special more concentrated focus on neonatal care; reducing the incidence of complicated pregnancies, deliveries and child morbidity through capacity building of health staff; and empowering mothers and families with knowledge and information on essential child care practices.
Comparison of under-5 mortality rate
Targets for MDG4
- Reduce by two thirds the mortality rate among children under five
- Under-five mortality rate
- Infant mortality rate
- Proportion of 1 year-old children immunised against measles