Bulletin of the World Health Organization

Estimating child mortality due to diarrhoea in developing countries

Cynthia Boschi-Pinto, Lana Velebit, Kenji Shibuya

Objective

The major objective of this study is to provide estimates of diarrhoea mortality at country, regional and global level by employing the Child Health Epidemiology Reference Group (CHERG) standard.

Methods

A systematic and comprehensive literature review was undertaken of all studies published since 1980 reporting under-5 diarrhoea mortality. Information was collected on characteristics of each study and its population. A regression model was used to relate these characteristics to proportional mortality from diarrhoea and to predict its distribution in national populations.

Findings

Global deaths from diarrhoea of children aged less than 5 years were estimated at 1.87 million (95% confidence interval, CI: 1.56–2.19), approximately 19% of total child deaths. WHO African and South-East Asia Regions combined contain 78% (1.46 million) of all diarrhoea deaths occurring among children in the developing world; 73% of these deaths are concentrated in just 15 developing countries.

Conclusion

Planning and evaluation of interventions to control diarrhoea deaths and to reduce under-5 mortality is obstructed by the lack of a system that regularly generates cause-of-death information. The methods used here provide country-level estimates that constitute alternative information for planning in settings without adequate data.

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