REGIONAL VARIATIONS IN CHILDHOOD MORTALITY IN ZAMBIA
University of Zimbabwe
Although Zambia has experienced reductions in childhood mortality over the years, wide gaps in childhood mortality rates still exist across the provinces within the country, warranting for a call for an equity focused approach to reducing child mortality. Motivated by this discrepancy, and guided by the Mosley and Chen (1984) conceptual framework, this dissertation aimed at establishing the socioeconomic, demographic and cultural factors that influence childhood mortality in Zambia, as well as the extent to which these factors possibly explain the observed regional variations in childhood mortality across the country. The study established that a number of factors significantly influence childhood mortality rates in the country. The chances of a child dying increased for a child born from: a non-Christian mother, a mother in the age category “45-49”, a mother who was not attended to by a midwife during delivery, and for the child whose mothers used “Pit latrines” or “bush” as their toilet facility. However, the chances of dying reduced for a child born in the rural area, or one in which the spacing between them and the previous sibling was 24 months or longer. In analyzing factors influencing childhood mortality rates in individual provinces, the study revealed that factors associated with child deaths were not homogenous, but differed from province to province. Finally, the study established that factors that have higher magnitudes in terms of their effects on child mortality in Zambia were significant and predominant in high mortality regions. Particularly, these included Religion, Attendence by midwife, Birth Interval, Literacy and Type of residence. And these were more influential in Eastern, Luapula, Northern, Muchinga, Lusaka and Western Provinces. The study therefore concluded that these socio economic, demographic and cultural factors are important in explaining the variations in childhood mortality observed among the different provinces of the country. The implication of these findings demonstrated the fact that ultimately, addressing the problem of childhood mortality effectively in Zambia calls for disaggregated analysis of individual regional problems.