Determinants and Prevention of Maternal and Child Mortality – Term Paper


The World Health Organization categorizes women and children as a vulnerable populace as far as mortality rates are concerned.  The World Health Organization data shows the death rate among children is high in the world, and the statistics vary in different countries, depending on many factors. As per the W.H.O data, in the year 2015 alone, the world lost about 6 million children under the five years of age to diseases and other natural causes of death (Jehan, 2009). The statistics further indicate a higher possibility of the death of children in Sub-Saharan countries; at 14 times above infant mortality in developed countries. Many reasons explain the high death rates, amongst them malnutrition, malaria, preterm birth complications, diarrhoea, birth asphyxia, pneumonia and natural calamities (Shapiro & Tenikue). The maximum likelihood of child death, however, is in the neonatal period, at 45%.

Malaria is the leading killer of children in third world countries as per W.H.O. Children in the Sub-Saharan Africa are 14 times likely to die than those born and brought up in developed countries because of the disease. W.H.O attributes this to weather and climate as well as the economic capacity of the states. For instance, the Plasmodium-carrying female anopheles mosquito survives in Africa because of the climate that favors the growth of bushes, and for the growth of wet environments. Unfortunately, not many people are in a capacity to get treatment or prevent their families from mosquito attacks due to the high level of poverty in third world countries. Countries like Kenya and the Central African Republic would rely on aid from developed countries to campaign against and finish malaria. On the other hand, in Canada the disease is negligible. This puts less developed countries at higher risk for mortality rates from malaria.

Hire a custom writer who has experience.
It's time for you to order amazing papers!

order now

Childhood diarrhoea is also a cause of death, especially in growing economies. The risk factors at this level are non-breast-fed kids, poor hygiene practices, unsafe foods, drinking water and poor sanitation. Countries around deserts experience acute water shortage and citizens would take waters as they are just to quench their thirst. Children are likely to be affected most by consumption of such dirty water.

The other significant factor for high mortality rates amongst children, given by the World Health Organisation, is pneumonia and other acute respiratory infections. The risk factors here includes low birth weight, malnutrition, non-breastfed children and overcrowded conditions. Malnutrition is highest in third world countries like Gambia, where parents can barely accord their kids a balanced diet, of all meals a day hence children are likely to go hungry (Rutherford, 2009). In countries like Swaziland, Lesotho and Botswana factors such as HIV infection limit breastfeeding, to reduce the spread of the disease (World Health Organization 2014). Besides, the health systems are not so well established to address such challenges. Citizens cannot comfortably afford alternatives to breastfeeding due to the rates of poverty in the countries. France, on the other hand, has moderate cases of HIV and has a variety of alternatives to breastfeeding hence loses few children. Besides, the children in such developed countries are well fed on a balanced diet to ensure they lead healthy lives.

Preterm birth complications is a known cause of death amongst infants. Women in villages located in less developed countries like Somalia and Uganda in Africa are more likely to lose their children than those in developed countries. The distance between their homes and hospitals are often not so close, hence are likely to develop complications during birth. The sparse population between homes complicates the matter since they rarely have someone around to help them when they experience labor pains. This is not the case in developed countries. Britain and the United States are well established economically, and financial they have adequate financial allocations to address the challenge of preterm birth complications.

Natural calamities and wars are the other factors that have contributed to the death of many children in the world. According to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, many women and children are dying from physical torture, S.T.Is and trauma in war-torn countries. When natural calamities such as drought, floods, and earthquakes strike and property are destroyed, inadequate response to help the victims has caused loss of lives, especially amongst the vulnerable population. There are also those who die due to prolonged periods of hunger. This is often witnessed in less developed countries that have no mechanism to address rapid response to manage the disasters. Congo, Somalia, and South Sudan are examples of countries that owe the high mortality rates to such catastrophes.

The World Health Organization has however laid down structures to help address the challenges that lead to high child mortality rates in the world. For one, a series of vaccination and immunization programs are carried out worldwide to minimize deaths from some known diseases like pneumonia and tuberculosis (Tao, Petzold and Forsberg, B. C. 2013). It has also partnered with many world organizations including USAID and the United Nations to address the problem of hunger and malnutrition, whereby they offer foods disaster-prone areas and carry out education courses on balanced diets. Adequate sanitation is the other agenda stressed on, to help limit child mortality rates, and as well many health centers have been set up by world bodies to address the infant mortality challenge in developing countries. The United Nations embraced Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to help promote health in developing countries.


International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. (2011). Eliminating Health Inequities: Every Woman and Every Child Counts.

Jehan, I. (2009). Neonatal mortality, risk factors and causes: a prospective population-based cohort study in urban Pakistan. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 87(2), 130-138.

Rutherford, M. (2009). Access to health care and mortality of children under 5 years of age in the Gambia: a case-control study. Bulletin of the World Health Organization, 87(3), 216-225.

Shapiro, D. & Tenikue, M. Women’s Education, Infant and Child Mortality, and Fertility Decline in Sub-Saharan Africa: A Quantitative Assessment. SSRN Electronic Journal.

Tao, W., Petzold, M., Forsberg, B. C. (2013). Routine Vaccination Coverage in Low and Middle-Income Countries: Further Arguments for Accelerating Support to Child Vaccination Services. Global Health Action, 6, 1;8.

World Health Organization (2014). Cause Specific Mortality and Morbidity: Maternal Mortality Ratio: Data by Country [Interactive file].