The current child mortality rate in Uganda is listed at 131 per 1,000 live births, or an effective mortality rate of 13.1%. This makes it the highest under-5 mortality rate in Eastern Africa. According to reports from the World Health Organization, Uganda is one of 24 countries that contribute 80% of the world’s deaths of children who are under the age of 5.
More than 7 million children below the age of 5 die every year in the world.
What Contributes to Uganda’s High Child Mortality Rate?
Research from Uganda Pediatrics Association shows that several preventable diseases and the effects of poverty are the leading causes of high child mortality rates within the country. Malaria is the top concern, but pneumonia, diarrhea, malnutrition, and HIV/AIDS are also leading contributors to the high under-5 mortality rate.
Many of the diseases which are affecting children in Uganda are preventable. The only problem is that the country has fallen well short of its goal to provide universal coverage, so many children don’t receive the products or services they need. Mosquito net coverage to prevent malaria, for example, is only at 45%.
Unless interventions can be scaled up and then sustained, there will always be children who do not receive access to the food and care they need. This means the child mortality rate in Uganda is expected to remain high for several years to come.
There Is Some Good News for Uganda’s High Child Mortality Rates
Although the child mortality rates in Uganda are very high, there has been some progressed made in the last 10+ years in this area. In 2005, the effective mortality rate for children under the age of 5 was 14.6%. This means 15 more children per every 1,000 are now surviving beyond their fifth birthday today than just a decade ago.
Other East Africa countries have also experienced gains in this area as of late. Tanzania’s effective under-5 child mortality rate is 12.2%. Kenya has lowered their mortality rate to 10.7%. Information from Rwanda shows that they have one of the lowest under-5 child mortality rates in the world at just 2.3%.
So what are these countries doing, especially Rwanda, to lower these rates?
It begins by lowering poverty rates. Although many still live in extreme poverty, Rwanda has been able to reduce the number of people living below the poverty line from 57% to 45% in just 5 years. A similar reduction in Uganda would likely see a similar reduction in child mortality rates.
Uganda could also benefit from a change in economy emphasis. Many in Uganda are focused in low-income agriculture jobs because that is the foundation of the economy. A transition to a knowledge-based or service-orientated economy would raise income levels, which would then extend services to households who are currently falling through the cracks.
The child mortality rate in Uganda is high, but it is falling. With sustained efforts to continue improving this nation, there is an expectation that Uganda’s rates could match Rwanda’s rates sooner rather than later.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.