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Overcoming Stagnation in the Levels and Distribution of Child Mortality: The Case of the Philippines
Authors: Raoul Bermejo III, Sonja Firth, Andrew Hodge, Eliana Jimenez-Soto, and Willibald Zeck
Source: PLOS ONE , 10(10): e0139458; DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0139458
Topic(s): Childhood mortality
Children under five
Health care utilization
Health equity
Neonatal mortality
Country: Asia
Published: OCT 2015
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Health-related within-country inequalities continue to be a matter of great interest and concern to both policy makers and researchers. This study aims to assess the level and the distribution of child mortality outcomes in the Philippines across geographical and socioeconomic indicators. METHODOLOGY: Data on 159,130 children ever borne were analysed from five waves of the Philippine Demographic and Health Survey. Direct estimation was used to construct under-five and neonatal mortality rates for the period 1980-2013. Rate differences and ratios, and where possible, slope and relative indices of inequality were calculated to measure disparities on absolute and relative scales. Stratification was undertaken by levels of rural/urban location, island groups and household wealth. FINDINGS: National under-five and neonatal mortality rates have shown considerable albeit differential reductions since 1980. Recently released data suggests that neonatal mortality has declined following a period of stagnation. Declines in under-five mortality have been accompanied by decreases in wealth and geography-related absolute inequalities. However, relative inequalities for the same markers have remained stable over time. For neonates, mixed evidence suggests that absolute and relative inequalities have remained stable or may have risen. CONCLUSION: In addition to continued reductions in under-five mortality, new data suggests that the Philippines have achieved success in addressing the commonly observed stagnated trend in neonatal mortality. This success has been driven by economic improvement since 2006 as well as efforts to implement a nationwide universal health care campaign. Yet, such patterns, nonetheless, accorded with persistent inequalities, particularly on a relative scale. A continued focus on addressing universal coverage, the influence of decentralisation and armed conflict, and issues along the continuum of care is advocated.