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Soc Sci Med. 1996 Jun;42(11):1599-604.

Immunization coverage and child mortality in two rural districts of Sierra Leone.

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Institute for Urban Research, Morgan State University, Baltimore, MD 21239-9972, USA.


The study, which is based on data from a household level health survey conducted in early 1993 in the rural areas of the districts of Western Area and Port Loko of Sierra Leone, examines the coverage of an Expanded Program on Immunization (EPI), infant and child mortality, and disease symptoms in children who died under age five in the study area. The results of the study indicated that the infant and child mortality rate per thousand live births declined from about 162 in the mid 1980s to about 77 in 1993. This decline was associated with immunization coverage which considerably increased by 1993, reaching as high as above 60% of the eligible children. The study further reveals that the major symptoms of disease at the time of death of an infant or a child were fever, cough, troubled breathing, and diarrhea in that order. While fever and cough could reflect the persistence of malaria and pneumonia-two major causes of infant and child deaths not covered by existing EPI-the study also revealed that many children failed to take full doses of immunization. Similarly, inadequate coverage of domiciliary oral rehydration therapy (ORT) might have been the reason of high incidence of diarrhea-related deaths. Simple medical technologies to eliminate many of the existing major causes of infant and child mortality in rural Sierra Leone are now available. Perhaps, a strengthened primary health care service, including an extensive rural health care network, aimed at eliminating these diseases, would go a long way in reducing infant and child mortality to irreducible minimum.

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