Estimates of Performance in Rate of Decline of Under-Five Mortality for 113 Low- and Middle-Income Countries, 1970–2010

Authors: Stéphane Verguet, Dean Jamison

Background: Measuring country performance in health has focused on assessing predicted vs observed levels of outcomes, an indicator that varies slowly over time. An alternative is to measure performance in terms of the rate of change in how a selected outcome compares to what would be expected given contextual determinants. Rates of change in health indicators can prove more sensitive than levels to changes in social, intersectoral or health policy context. It is thus similar to the growth rate of gross domestic product in the economic context. We assess performance in the rate of change (decline) of under-five mortality for 113 low- and middle-income countries.

Methods: For 1970–2010, we study the evolution in rates of decline of under-five mortality. For each decade, we define performance as the average of the difference between the observed rate of decline and a rate of decline predicted by a model controlling for the contextual factors of income, female education levels, decade and geographical location.

Results: In the 1970s, the top performer in the rate of decline of under-five mortality was Costa Rica. In the 2000s, the top performer was Turkey. Overall, performance in rates of decline correlated little with performance in levels of under-five mortality. A major transition in performance between decades suggests a change in underlying determinants and we report the magnitude of these transitions. For example, heavily AIDS impacted countries, such as Botswana, experienced major drops in performance between the 1980s and the 1990s and some, including Botswana, experienced major compensatory improvements between the 1990s and the 2000s.

Conclusions: Rate-based measures of country performance in health provide a starting point for assessments of the importance of health system, social and intersectoral determinants of performance.  More

Verguet S, Jamison DT. 2013. Estimates of performance in the rate of decline of under-five mortality for 113 low- and middle-income countries, 1970-2010. Health Policy and Planning. 1-13.