How Many Years of Life Could Be Saved If Malaria Were Eliminated from a Hyperendemic Area of Northern Ghana?

Ayaga A. Bawah INDEPTH Network, Accra, Ghana; School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana

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Fred N. Binka INDEPTH Network, Accra, Ghana; School of Public Health, University of Ghana, Accra, Ghana

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Malaria is endemic in about 90 countries of the world, half of which are in Africa. Little is known about the demographic impact of the disease, however. This article uses demographic methods to examine the impact of mortality from malaria on overall mortality in a hyperendemic rural African setting. Using longitudinal demographic surveillance data from northern Ghana and applying multiple decrement and associated single-decrement life-table methods, we estimate the total number of person-years that would have been saved had malaria been eliminated from the population in 1995, given the age- and cause-specific mortality conditions of the period and gains in life expectancy that are implied. Results suggest that as many as one third of deaths in this population are attributable to malaria, depending on the age group under consideration, and that life expectancy at birth would likely increase by more than six years if malaria were eliminated as a cause of death.

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