Infant mortality rate remains high

Home Featured Infant mortality rate remains high

By Albertina Nakale

WINDHOEK – Namibia is unlikely to reduce the current infant mortality rate (IMR) of 44 deaths for every 1000 live births to the target of 30 deaths for every 1000 live births by 2015.

This information is contained in the Namibia 2011 Census Mortality Report released by the National Statistics Agency (NSA) and was launched on Tuesday by the First Lady Penehupifo Pohamba.

The same report indicates about 375 maternal deaths were recorded, while a total of 62 046 births were also recorded during the same period.

The reported maternal mortality ratio (MMR) was 604 maternal deaths per 100 000 live births.

Maternal deaths are those which occur while pregnant during child birth or within two months after child birth and which are caused by complications during pregnancy or maternity.

Although the MMR varied widely according to age group, the lowest ratio was in the age group of 15-24, while the higher ratios were observed at the very youngest age of 12-14 as well as at progressively older ages.

An increase in IMR is notable for the Zambezi Region which has risen from 59 in 2001 to 74 in 2011.

Equally, the report shows the child mortality rate (CMR) was reduced by only two child deaths per 1000 live births, which suggests that these results are far from complying with the 2012 Millennium Developmental Goal (MDG) target of 45 deaths per 1000 live births.

The first lady said the figures are shocking and very high as these children are below five years.

“These children die at a shockingly early age. What is even worse, is that comparing the figures of 2011, they haven’t improved much in 10 years. We are a growing nation and every avoidable death whether through accident, suicide, crime or treatable illness needs to be seen as a failure by all of us. The inhumane baby dumping should be addressed and the culprit be brought to justice,” she said.

Further, the report shows that adolescent pregnancies are still on the increase and have become a growing concern in Namibia. 

Infants born to mothers especially in rural areas with little or no education have a higher probability of dying at the age of 0 than those born to mothers with completed secondary school.

Moreover, causes of death identified range from illness to fatal accidents, murder, suicide and pregnancy. Illness was the highest cause of death recorded with over 18 000, followed by accidents with 1 613, suicides at 673 while murder recorded about 472 cases.

Regarding fertility rates, the report shows that fertility levels are still among the lowest in Sub-Saharan Africa. 

However, regional estimates indicate high fertility levels in some of the predominantly rural regions such as Kunene and Ohangwena, and the lowest in Khomas Region