Nutritional status as a central determinant of child mortality in sub‐Saharan Africa: a quantitative conceptual framework
Smuts, Cornelius M.
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Child mortality is a major public health problem in sub‐Saharan Africa and is influenced by nutritional status. A conceptual framework was proposed to explain factors related to undernutrition. Previously proposed conceptual frameworks for undernutrition do not consider child mortality and describe factors related to undernutrition from a qualitative viewpoint only. A structural equation modelling approach was applied to the data from World Bank and FAO databases collected from over 37 sub‐Saharan countries from 2000 to the most recent update. Ten food groups, exclusive breastfeeding, poverty and illiteracy rates, and environmental hygiene were investigated in relation to underweight, stunting, low birthweight, and child mortality. Standardized beta coefficient was reported, and graphical models were used to depict the relations among factors related to under‐five mortality in sub‐Saharan Africa. Child mortality in sub‐Saharan Africa ranged between 76 and 127 × 1,000. In the same period, low birthweight rate was about 14%. Poverty and illiteracy are confirmed to affect health resources, which in turn influenced nutritional status and child mortality. Among nutritional factors, exclusive breastfeeding had a greater influence than food availability. Low birthweight, more than underweight and stunting, influenced child mortality. Structural equation modelling is a suitable way to disentangle the complex quantitative framework among factors determining child mortality in sub‐Saharan Africa. Acting on poverty at the base appear to be the more effective strategy along with improvement of breastfeeding practice and improvement of hygiene conditions
- Faculty of Health Sciences