oa South African Health Review - Child mortality in South Africa : using existing data : reflections on the Millennium Development Goals

Volume 2010, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 1025-1715



Child mortality is generally credited as a surrogate marker for the quality of care within a health service. However, if mortality rates are to be used as an indicator of quality of care, or to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of programmes aimed at improving child health and the quality of health care, it is critical that this data is accurate. The quality of data routinely collected in the South African health system is extremely variable. While data from primary health care clinics are generally good, that from hospitals is poor and data from the vital registration process is often incomplete.

This chapter describes five data sources currently in use in South Africa that assist in the monitoring of child mortality rates. In order to facilitate an improvement in the quality of these datasets, the available data has been used to present a profile of child mortality in 2007.
The year 2007 has been selected as this is the most recent year for which data from the death registration programme are available and is therefore the only year for which data are available from all five data sources. It is accepted that these data are incomplete and that some datasets have improved in subsequent years. However, by using these data the authors hope to stimulate reflection on the data as well as to precipitate improved data collection.

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