Limited information is available regarding the causes of under-five
mortality in nearly all of the countries in which mortality is the
highest. The purpose of this study was to use a standard computerized
protocol for defining the leading causes of death among children in a
high-mortality rural population of Haiti and to highlight the need for
similar studies elsewhere in Haiti and throughout the high-mortality
areas of Latin America and the Caribbean.
METHODS: In 2001 a standardized, closed-ended verbal autopsy questionnaire endorsed by the World Health Organization was administered to a representative, population-based sample of the mothers or other caregivers of 97 children who had died before reaching 5 years of age between 1995 and 1999 in the service area of the Albert Schweitzer Hospital, which is located in the rural Artibonite Valley of Haiti. With the data from the questionnaires we used a computerized algorithm to generate diagnoses of the cause of death; the algorithm made it possible to have more than one cause of death.
RESULTS: Acute lower respiratory infection (ALRI) was the leading diagnosis, present in 45% of all under-five deaths, followed by enteric diseases, present in 21% of deaths. Neonatal tetanus, preterm birth, and other early neonatal causes unassociated with ALRI or diarrhea were present in 41% of the neonatal deaths. Among children 1–59 months of age, ALRI was present in 51% of the deaths, and enteric diseases in 30%. Deaths were concentrated during the first few months of life, with 35% occurring during the first month. Among the neonatal deaths, 27% occurred on the first day of life, and 80% occurred during the first 10 days of life.
CONCLUSIONS: In the Albert Schweitzer Hospital program area—and presumably in other areas of Haiti as well—priority needs to be given to the prevention of and the early, effective treatment of ALRI, diarrhea, and early neonatal conditions. This study points to the need for more, similar standardized assessments to guide local, regional, and national programs.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Revista Panamericana de Salud Publica/Pan American Journal of Public Health|
|Publication status||Published - Sep 2005|