Time to focus child survival programmes on the newborn: Assessment of levels and causes of infant mortality in rural Pakistan (PDF)
Fikree,Fariyal F.; Azam,Syed Iqbal; Berendes,Heinz W.
Bulletin of the World Health Organization 80(4): 271-276
Publication date: 2002
Population-based surveys were conducted in selected clusters of Pakistan's least developed provinces, Balochistan and North-West Frontier Province (NWFP), including the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), to assess levels and causes of neonatal and postneonatal mortality.
Interviews were conducted in a total of 54 834 households: Balochistan, 20 486; NWFP, 26 175; and FATA, 8173. Trained interviewers administered questionnaires after obtaining verbal informed consent from the respondents. Verbal autopsy interviews were conducted for infant deaths reported for the previous year.
The infant mortality rate based on combined data from the different sites was 99.7 per 1000 live births (range 129.0-70.1). The contribution of neonatal deaths to all infant deaths was much higher for NWFP (67.2%), where the overall rate was lowest, than for Balochistan (50.8%) and FATA (56.8%). Around 70% of all neonatal deaths occurred in the early neonatal period. The three main clinical causes of infant deaths were diarrhoea syndrome (21.6%), tetanus (11.7%) and acute respiratory infections (11.6%). In the neonatal period, however, tetanus (18.3%), small size for gestational age or low birth weight (15.3%), and birth injury (12.0%) accounted for nearly half (45.6%) of all deaths, while the contributions of diarrhoea syndrome (5.1%) and acute respiratory infections (6.0%) were less significant (11.1%). Tetanus was the cause of death for 21.7% and 17.1% of all infant deaths in FATA and NWFP respectively.
The results suggest that there should be a shift in child survival programmes to give greater emphasis to maternal and neonatal health, in particular to maternal tetanus immunization, safe delivery and cord care.