Status of women and infant/child health in Kenya with particular reference to the high mortality zone in Nyanza Province

Type Journal Article - Union of African Population Studies
Title Status of women and infant/child health in Kenya with particular reference to the high mortality zone in Nyanza Province
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1995
Page numbers 0-0
Child survival is primarily determined by the social and economic status of the child's family, essentially expressed by two indicators - maternal education and some index of economic circumstances of the household (Mosley, 1985). Studies have confirmed that chronic malnutrition is linked to high rates of infectious diseases and child mortality. Differences in nutritional status are due to external circumstances, and not to ethnic differences in growth potential (Martorell and Habitch, 1986). these external factors include socio-economic differences, and regional and seasonal variations in anthropometric status (Brown et al., 1982). Repeated episodes of infectious diseases in conjunction with insufficient dietary intake are important factors leading to growth faltering in young children.

Infant and child deaths are the direct result of disease and malnutrition. Since death is the end result of a cumulative series of pathological processes, the biological status of surviving children reflects their position along the spectrum from good health to life threatening disability. The simplest indicator of this growth faltering and body wasting can be measured by relating height and weight to age (Mosley, 1995). After growth faltering in the first few years of life, there is rarely compensatory catch up growth later on (Sommerfelt, 1991). In most developing countries, diarrhoeal diseases are a leading cause of death of infants and young children, along with respiratory diseases and malnutrition. A study of the relations between protein-energy malnutrition and infectious diseases is fundamental for an understanding of the epidemiology of malnutrition (Scrimshaw, Taylor and Gordon, 1971).

Various studies in Kenya have confirmed the significant relationship between socio-economic factors and infant/child survival (Muganzi, 1984; Odhiambo, 1991; Ouma, 1991). Education is now recognised around the world as a basic prerequisite for development. There is a general consensus that the benefits of education, measured as increases in productivity and in overall quality of life, multiply with the increased participation of women and girls. Through education, households can learn what a balanced diet entails and parents can learn simple facts about child feeding practices and common childhood diseases. In Kenya, the major causes of infant and child deaths are malaria, acute respiratory infections, diarrhoeal diseases, and several vaccine preventable diseases. These diseases are often accompanied by malnutrition. In general, acute respiratory infections cause most child deaths in Kenyan highland areas while diarrhoea, malaria and malnutrition are the major causes of death in the low lying areas of the Coast and around Lake Victoria in Nyanza province (UNICEF, 1992).

This study examines the association between status of women and infant/child health in Nyanza province of Kenya based on the 1993 Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS) dataset and qualitative data. The specific objectives of the study were to: compare status of women and health status of children under five in selected districts in Kenya; establish association between demographic and socio-economic characteristics of women and health status of children aged under five years in Nyanza province; establish relationship between nutritional status and incidence of infectious diseases among children aged under five years in nyanza province; establish role played by traditional/religious beliefs and practices on status of women and infant/child health in the high mortality zone in Nyanza province.

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