Kenya tops list of 10 countries where infant deaths drop

Malaria prevention through the use of insecticide-treated bed nets is believed to be a major contributing factor.

By James Addis, World Vision U.S.
Published May 24, 2012 at 12:00am PDT

A new research paper released by the World Bank shows a substantial decline in infant mortality in Kenya and more than a dozen other countries in sub-Saharan Africa.

Infant mortality reduced in several African countries

The paper, “What has Driven the Decline of Infant Mortality in Kenya?,” says that Kenya has led the way in reducing infant mortality and notes that a major factor in its success is the increased ownership of insecticide-treated bed nets that protect children from malaria.

The paper notes Kenya’s infant mortality rate has fallen by 7.6 percent per year in the past five years — the fastest rate of decline in the region. It says 58 percent of this decline can be attributed to increased ownership of bed nets.    

The top 10 African countries to slash infant mortality include: 

1. Kenya (7.6 percent)
2. Rwanda (6.9 percent)
3. Nigeria (5.6 percent)
4. Benin (5.5 percent)
5. Mozambique (5.5 percent) 


6. Uganda (5.3 percent)
7. Niger (5.1 percent)
8. Senegal (5.1 percent)
9. Zambia (5.0 percent)
10. Ghana (4.8 percent)

* percent decline per year since 2005

Bed nets key to preventing child deaths

The research comes as World Vision continues a $60 million campaign to distribute millions of bed nets in Africa and educate communities about their use, in an effort to virtually eliminate preventable malaria deaths in its project areas.

So far, the campaign has seen the distribution of almost 2 million nets in Kenya, Zambia, and Mozambique. The organization plans to distribute more than 1 million nets in Mali in the coming months and expand the program to include Uganda and Ethiopia.

Rose Craigue, World Vision’s health sector specialist based in Washington, D.C., says that in some areas where nets have been distributed, malaria prevalence already has dropped by 60 percent.  

Other contributing factors

Meanwhile, the World Bank paper says the declines in infant and under-5 mortality in Africa are largely unrecognized trends that merit further analysis.

In addition to the increased use of nets, it suggests that new public health initiatives, better access to water and sanitation, and overall improvements in living standards have contributed to the gains.

According to The Economist, the decline in African under-5 child mortality is speeding up, and the rate of improvement far exceeds those exhibited by some countries, such as China, that have experienced strong economic growth in recent years.

How you can help

Thank God for this drop in infant deaths. Pray that this positive trend would continue and that more children and families would have access to life-saving resources like bed nets, as well as clean water, healthcare services, and nutritious food.

Make a one-time gift to help provide a family with insecticide-treated bed nets. This inexpensive intervention can last for several years, providing vulnerable children with a shield against malaria-carrying mosquitoes while they sleep.

Give monthly to help us fight malaria around the world. Tragically, this disease still devastates communities and perpetuates the cycle of poverty, even though it’s entirely preventable. Your monthly contribution will help our efforts to stop malaria for good.