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COMPARISON OF GOVERNMENT STATISTICS AND DEMOGRAPHIC SURVEILLANCE TO MONITOR MORTALITY IN CHILDREN LESS THAN FIVE YEARS OLD IN RURAL WESTERN KENYA

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  • 1 Centre for Vector Biology and Control Research, Kenya Medical Research Institute, Kisumu, Kenya; Department of Zoology, Kenyatta University, Nairobi; Division of Parasitic Diseases, Division of Parasitic Diseases, National Center for Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; Department of Infectious Diseases, Tropical Medicine & AIDS, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Estimates of mortality in children less than five years old using government civil registration statistics (passive surveillance) were compared against statistics generated by active demographic surveillance during a randomized controlled trial of permethrin-treated bed nets (ITNs) in western Kenya. Mortality rates were two-fold lower when estimated through civil registration compared with active prospective surveillance (rate ratio [RR] = 0.51, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 0.44–0.59). While civil registration underestimated deaths, particularly in the neonatal period, the age distribution of deaths in children 1–59 months of age was the same as with active surveillance. Seasonal mortality trends were also similar. There was no agreement between cause of death recorded by active and passive surveillance. Verbal autopsy estimated that half of all deaths were associated with malaria and pneumonia, but civil registration markedly under-reported these illnesses; incidence RR (95% CI) = 0.18 (0.14–0.24), and 0.05 (0.03–0.08), respectively, while over-reporting deaths due to measles (RR = 15.5 [95% CI = 7.3–33.2]). Government statistics under-represent mortality, particularly neonatal mortality, in children less than five years of age in rural areas of Kenya. They can provide accurate information on the age-distribution of deaths among children 1–59 months old, and on seasonal trends, but not on disease-specific mortality.

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