Pattern of cause-specific childhood mortality in a malaria endemic area of Burkina Faso
Project team: Heiko Becher, Gisela Kynast-Wolf, Heribert Ramroth, Gabriele Stieglbauer
Collaborators within the department: Olaf Müller
External collaborators: Ali Sié, CRSN, Nouna, Burkina Faso
Funding: DFG (SFB 544), Project Z2, Eigenmittel
Funding period: 2008-2012
Reliable mortality data are a prerequisite for planning health interventions, yet such data are often not available in developing countries, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). Demographic surveillance systems (DSS) implementing the verbal autopsy (VA) method are the only possibility to observe cause-specific mortality of a population on a longitudinal basis in many countries.
This paper reports all-cause and cause-specific mortality rates in children under the age of five years from 1999 until 2003 in a malaria holoendemic area of north-western Burkina Faso. The DSS of the Nouna Health Research Centre, in which VA data were analyzed, covers a rural population of about 30,000 (41 villages) and an urban population of about 25,000 (Nouna town).
A total of 1,544 deaths were analyzed. All cause mortality rates of children under five years were higher in the rural than the urban area (34 vs. 24 per 1,000 person-years) and in the rainy than the dry season (35 vs 29 per 1,000 person years). Malaria was the most frequent diagnosis (42%) with peak mortality rates in infants aged 6–11 months.
Malaria is the most important cause of death in this remote area of SSA, even considering the low specificity of malaria diagnosis in young children. Strengthening the existing malaria control tools is of prime importance to reduce the high childhood mortality in the endemic areas of SSA.