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Space-time smoothing of mortality estimates in children aged 5-14 in Sub-Saharan Africa

Published: 19 January 2021
PLOS ONE , Volume 16; doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0245596

Abstract: To meet the SDG requirement of spatial disaggregation of indicators, several methods have been developed to generate estimates of under-five mortality at the sub-national level. The reliability of sub-national mortality estimates in children aged 5-14 with the available survey data has not been evaluated so far. We generate Admin-1 sub-national estimates of the risk of dying in children aged less than five (5q0) and those aged 5 to 14 years old (10q5). We use 96 Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) in 20 Sub-Saharan countries having at least 3 surveys designed to be representative at a sub-national level. The estimates account for the complex sample design of DHS and HIV-related biases in young children. A Bayesian space-time model previously developed for under-five mortality is used to smooth estimates across space and time in both age groups to reduce problems associated with data sparsity. The posterior distributions of the probability 10q5 are used to compute coefficients of variation and assess precision. Sufficiently precise estimates are retained to study the sub-national relationship between age-specific mortality rates (5q0 and 10q5), accounting for uncertainty in sub-national levels. Out of 1,132 space-time estimates, 62.3% are considered sufficiently precise with high heterogeneity across countries. Across all periods, sub-national estimates of mortality in children aged 0-4 are highly correlated with those in older children and young adolescents but this correlation is largely driven by the mortality decline. Within specific periods of time, it is often impossible to assess the relationship between mortality rates in the two age groups at the sub-national level, except in Nigeria, Ethiopia, Cameroon, Senegal and Zambia. As increased attention is devoted to survival after age 5, more research is needed to ensure that sub-national areas with specific interventions required for older children can be correctly identified.
Keywords: Children / Adolescents / Africa / Death rates / Age groups / Zambia / child health / random walk

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