Child mortality in Niger plummets

Niger, one of the world's poorest countries, has bucked regional trends to achieve dramatic reductions in child mortality in recent years, according to a Countdown country case study published in The Lancet.

Researchers examined changes in child mortality and other aspects of child health, such as wasting from malnutrition, in Niger from 1998-2009. They found that mortality in children younger than five years nearly halved during this period, from 226 deaths per 1000 live births in 1998 to 128 deaths per 1000 in 2009. Severe wasting also declined across all age groups during this period, with the largest decrease in children aged 6-35 months—from 15.8% of babies in 1998 to 6.3% in 2009.

Niger, situated in West Africa, ranks 186 of 187 on the , with an economy largely based on subsistence and periodically threatened by drought and . However, despite the fact that there have been no considerable increases in the country's gross domestic product (GDP) over the last decade, the country has managed to implement substantial improvements in the health of its mothers and children.

The authors estimate that nearly 60 000 children's lives were saved in 2009 alone, highlighting the government's commitment to supporting universal access to health care, free for pregnant women and children, as one of the keys to this success. The researchers also highlight the effectiveness of low-cost interventions such as insecticide treated for the prevention of malaria, , and treatment of diarrhoea with as contributing to the recent improvements in child health.

The study provides invaluable evidence for other low-income countries as to how child health can be improved in a comparatively short space of time, at relatively low cost. According to one of the studies' authors, Agbessi Amouzou of Johns Hopkins University in the USA, "This study codifies, for the first time, policies, programmatic strategies, and what was actually done on the ground in Niger to achieve the dramatic reductions in child mortality and wasting that we've seen there in the last ten years."

Writing in a linked Comment, Niger's Minister of Health, the Honourable Soumana Sanda, says: "These results are a source of enormous pride on the part of the Government of Niger, and especially the Ministry of Health, for having moved Niger from its position in 1990, when the country had the highest child mortality rate in the world, to where we are today. Our success provides evidence that it is possible to reduce substantially in an incredibly hard socioeconomic context."

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Race to save mothers, children set to fall short

Sep 20, 2011

A global campaign to save new mothers and children under five in developing nations has made strong gains but is set to fall well shy of UN goals, according to a study released Tuesday.

Malaria prevention saves children's lives

Mar 28, 2012

Malaria continues to be a major disease worldwide, but while funding projects are working hard to improve malaria prevention it is difficult to measure how effective these interventions are. New research published in BioMed ...

Recommended for you

Keep your teens safe on the road this summer

2 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Car crashes are the leading cause of accidental death among American teens, and parents need to take steps to keep their teens safe when they're on the road this summer, an expert says.

Survey finds sharp increase in teen use of HGH

2 hours ago

(AP)—Experimentation with human growth hormones by America's teens more than doubled in the past year, as more young people looked to drugs to boost their athletic performance and improve their looks, according ...

Government drafting birth control accommodation

3 hours ago

(AP)—The Obama administration is developing a new way for religious nonprofits that object to paying for contraceptives in their health plans to opt out, without submitting a form they say violates their religious beliefs.

User comments