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Alkema L.,National University of Singapore | You D.,United Nations Childrens Fund
PLoS Medicine | Year: 2012

Background: Millennium Development Goal 4 calls for a reduction in the under-five mortality rate (U5MR) by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015. In 2011, estimates were published by the United Nations Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation (UN IGME) and the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME). The difference in the U5MR estimates produced by the two research groups was more than 10% and corresponded to more than ten deaths per 1,000 live births for 10% of all countries in 1990 and 20% of all countries in 2010, which can lead to conflicting conclusions with respect to countries' progress. To understand what caused the differences in estimates, we summarised differences in underlying data and modelling approaches used by the two groups, and analysed their effects. Methods and Findings: UN IGME and IHME estimation approaches differ with respect to the construction of databases and the pre-processing of data, trend fitting procedures, inclusion and exclusion of data series, and additional adjustment procedures. Large differences in U5MR estimates between the UN IGME and the IHME exist in countries with conflicts or civil unrest, countries with high HIV prevalence, and countries where the underlying data used to derive the estimates were different, especially if the exclusion of data series differed between the two research groups. A decomposition of the differences showed that differences in estimates due to using different data (inclusion of data series and pre-processing of data) are on average larger than the differences due to using different trend fitting methods. Conclusions: Substantial country-specific differences between UN IGME and IHME estimates for U5MR and the number of under-five deaths exist because of various differences in data and modelling assumptions used. Often differences are illustrative of the lack of reliable data and likely to decrease as more data become available. Improved transparency on methods and data used will help to improve understanding about the drivers of the differences. Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary. © 2012 Alkema, You.

Alkema L.,National University of Singapore | Chao F.,National University of Singapore | You D.,United Nations Childrens Fund | Pedersen J.,Fafo Institute of Applied International Studies | Sawyer C.C.,United Nations Population Division
The Lancet Global Health | Year: 2014

Background: Under natural circumstances, the sex ratio of male to female mortality up to the age of 5 years is greater than one but sex discrimination can change sex ratios. The estimation of mortality by sex and identification of countries with outlying levels is challenging because of issues with data availability and quality, and because sex ratios might vary naturally based on diff erences in mortality levels and associated cause of death distributions. Methods: For this systematic analysis, we estimated country-specific mortality sex ratios for infants, children aged 1-4 years, and children under the age of 5 years (under 5s) for all countries from 1990 (or the earliest year of data collection) to 2012 using a Bayesian hierarchical time series model, accounting for various data quality issues and assessing the uncertainty in sex ratios. We simultaneously estimated the global relation between sex ratios and mortality levels and constructed estimates of expected and excess female mortality rates to identify countries with outlying sex ratios. Findings: Global sex ratios in 2012 were 1·13 (90% uncertainty interval 1·12-1·15) for infants, 0·95 (0·93-0·97) for children aged 1-5 years, and 1·08 (1·07-1·09) for under 5s, an increase since 1990 of 0·01 (-0·01 to 0·02) for infants, 0·04 (0·02 to 0·06) for children aged 1-4 years, and 0·02 (0·01 to 0·04) for under 5s. Levels and trends varied across regions and countries. Sex ratios were lowest in southern Asia for 1990 and 2012 for all age groups. Highest sex ratios were seen in developed regions and the Caucasus and central Asia region. Decreasing mortality was associated with increasing sex ratios, except at very low infant mortality, where sex ratios decreased with total mortality. For 2012, we identified 15 countries with outlying under-5 sex ratios, of which ten countries had female mortality higher than expected (Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Jordan, Nepal, and Pakistan). Although excess female mortality has decreased since 1990 for the vast majority of countries with outlying sex ratios, the ratios of estimated to expected female mortality did not change substantially for most countries, and worsened for India. Interpretation: Important diff erences exist between boys and girls with respect to survival up to the age of 5 years. Survival chances tend to improve more rapidly for girls compared with boys as total mortality decreases, with a reversal of this trend at very low infant mortality. For many countries, sex ratios follow this pattern but important exceptions exist. An explanation needs to be sought for selected countries with outlying sex ratios and action should be undertaken if sex discrimination is present. © Alkema et al.

Arabi M.,United Nations Childrens Fund | Frongillo E.A.,University of South Carolina | Avula R.,University of South Carolina | Mangasaryan N.,United Nations Childrens Fund
Child Development | Year: 2012

Feeding practices are important determinants of growth and development of children. Using infant and young child feeding indicators and complementary feeding guidelines, 7 practices in 28 countries are described, showing substantial variation across countries. Only 25% of 0- to 5-month-olds were exclusively breastfed, and only half of 6- to 8-month-olds received complementary foods the previous day. Median duration of breastfeeding and increase of fluid intake during diarrhea were low among countries with a high Human Development Index (HDI). Living in high-HDI countries may not translate to positive feeding practices. Across countries, there is a need for promotion, protection, and support of optimal breastfeeding and complementary feeding practices as well as better adherence to recommendations for feeding during illness. © 2012 The Authors. Child Development © 2012 Society for Research in Child Development, Inc.

Nanama S.,United Nations Childrens Fund | Frongillo E.A.,University of South Carolina
Social Science and Medicine | Year: 2012

Food insecurity negatively impacts outcomes in adults and children including parenting practices, child development, educational achievement, school performance, diet, and nutritional status. Ethnographic and quantitative research suggests that food insecurity affects well-being not only through the lack food, poor diet, and hunger, but also through social and psychological consequences that are closely linked to it. These studies are limited in number, and have mostly been carried out in contexts with market economies where household access to food depends almost solely on income. This study considers the social and psychological experiences closely linked to food insecurity in northern Burkina Faso, a context marked by subsistence farming, chronic food insecurity with a strong seasonal pattern, and a complex social structure. A total of 33 men and women from ten households were interviewed in February 2001 using semi-structured interview guides. Data were analyzed following the principles of thematic analysis. Food insecurity is closely linked with consequences such as concern, worries, and anxiety that ultimately lead to weight and sleep loss. Food insecurity results in feelings of alienation (e.g., shame) and deprivation (e.g., guilt), and alters household cohesion leading to disputes and difficulties keeping children at home. Decisions made by household members to manage and cope with food insecurity are shaped by their fear of alienation and other cultural and social norms. These findings, although derived from data collected 10 years ago before the 2008 food and fuel crises, remain valid in the study context, and emphasize the importance of social and psychological consequences closely linked to food insecurity and their negative impact on the well-being at both individual and household levels in contexts of non-market economy and chronic food insecurity. Attention to these non-nutritional consequences will improve the design, implementation, and evaluation of food insecurity programs in this and similar contexts. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.

Darnton-Hill I.,Tufts University | Cogill B.,United Nations Childrens Fund
Journal of Nutrition | Year: 2010

Rising food prices, resulting from the ongoing global economic crisis, fuel price volatility, and climate change, have an adverse impact upon the poor, especially those in food-importing, resource-limited countries. The conventional approach by large organizations has been to advocate for increased staple crop yields of mainly cereals. High food prices are predicted to continue to at least 2015. Past shocks and their known impacts upon nutrition were reviewed. Price instability and increases have long been an existing global problem, which has been exacerbated by recent macroeconomic shocks such as acute emergencies due to war and civil strife, acute climatic events, increase in food prices, fuel price volatility, dysfunction of the global financial systems, long-term climate change, and the emergence of failed states. The FAO estimated that there were 815 million "hungry" people in 2006, with a now additional 75-135 million with increased vulnerability, and currently it is estimated that there are one billion people at risk of food insecurity. The shocks initially compromise maternal and child nutrition, mainly through a reduction in dietary quality and an increase in micronutrient deficiencies and concomitant increases in infectious disease morbidity and mortality. A further reduction in the quantity of diet may follow with greater underweight and wasting. Recent macroeconomic shocks have greatly increased the number of people who are vulnerable to hunger in developing countries. Nutritional surveillance systems need to be strengthened and expanded to inform policy decisions. © 2010 American Society for Nutrition.

Idele P.,United Nations Childrens Fund | Gillespie A.,United Nations Childrens Fund | Porth T.,United Nations Childrens Fund | Suzuki C.,United Nations Childrens Fund | And 3 more authors.
Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndromes | Year: 2014

OBJECTIVES: To examine levels and patterns of HIV prevalence, knowledge, sexual behavior, and coverage of selected HIV services among adolescents aged 10-19 years and highlight data gaps and challenges. METHODS: Data were reviewed from Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS HIV estimates, nationally representative household surveys, behavioral surveillance surveys, and published literature. RESULTS: A number of gaps exist for adolescent-specific HIV-related data; however, important implications for programming can be drawn. Eighty-two percent of the estimated 2.1 million adolescents aged 10-19 years living with HIV in 2012 were in sub-Saharan Africa, and the majority of these (58%) were females. Comprehensive accurate knowledge about HIV, condom use, HIV testing, and antiretroviral treatment coverage remain low in most countries. Early sexual debut (sex before 15 years of age) is more common among adolescent girls than boys in low- and middle-income countries, consistent with early marriage and early childbirth in these countries. In low and concentrated epidemic countries, HIV prevalence is highest among key populations. CONCLUSIONS: Although the available HIV-related data on adolescents are limited, increased HIV vulnerability in the second decade of life is evident in the data. Improving data gathering, analysis, and reporting systems specific to adolescents is essential to monitoring progress and improving health outcomes for adolescents. More systematic and better quality disaggregated data are needed to understand differences by sex, age, geography, and socioeconomic factors and to address equity and human rights obligations, especially for key populations. Copyright © 2014 by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Cai X.,United Nations Population Fund | Wardlaw T.,United Nations Childrens Fund | Brown D.W.,United Nations Childrens Fund
International Breastfeeding Journal | Year: 2012

Background: Infant and young child feeding is critical for child health and survival. Proportion of infants 0-5 months who are fed exclusively with breast milk is a common indicator used for monitoring and evaluating infant and young child feeding in a given country and region. Despite progress made since 1990, a previous review in 2006 of global and regional trends found improvement to be modest. The current study provides an update in global and regional trends in exclusive breastfeeding from 1995 to 2010, taking advantage of the wealth of data from recent household surveys.Methods: Using the global database of infant and young child feeding maintained by the United Nations Children's Fund, the authors examined estimates from 440 household surveys in 140 countries over the period between 1995 and 2010 and calculated global and regional averages of the rate of exclusive breastfeeding among infants 0-5 months for the two time points to assess the trends.Results: Trend data suggest the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding among infants younger than six months in developing countries increased from 33% in 1995 to 39% in 2010. The prevalence increased in almost all regions in the developing world, with the biggest improvement seen in West and Central Africa.Conclusions: In spite of the well-recognized importance of exclusive breastfeeding, the practice is not widespread in the developing world and increase on the global level is still very modest with much room for improvement. Child nutrition programmes worldwide continue to require investments and commitments to improve infant feeding practices in order to have maximum impact on children's lives. © 2012 Cai et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Background: GAVI's focus on reducing inequities in access to vaccines, immunization, and GAVI funds, - both between and within countries - has changed over time. This paper charts that evolution. Methods: A systematic qualitative review was conducted by searching PubMed, Google Scholar and direct review of available GAVI Board papers, policies, and program guidelines. Documents were included if they described or evaluated GAVI policies, strategies, or programs and discussed equity of access to vaccines, utilization of immunization services, or GAVI funds in countries currently or previously eligible for GAVI support. Findings were grouped thematically, categorized into time periods covering GAVI's phases of operations, and assessed depending on whether the approaches mediated equity of opportunity or equity of outcomes between or within countries. Results: Serches yielded 2816 documents for assessment. After pre-screening and removal of duplicates, 552 documents underwent detailed evaluation and pertinent information was extracted from 188 unique documents. As a global funding mechanism, GAVI responded rationally to a semi-fixed funding constraint by focusing on between-country equity in allocation of resources. GAVI's predominant focus and documented successes have been in addressing between-country inequities in access to vaccines comparing lower income (GAVI-eligible) countries with higher income (ineligible) countries. GAVI has had mixed results at addressing between-country inequities in utilization of immunization services, and has only more recently put greater emphasis and resources towards addressing within-country inequities in utilization to immunization services. Over time, GAVI has progressively added vaccines to its portfolio. This expansion should have addressed inter-country, inter-regional, inter-generational and gender inequities in disease burden, however, evidence is scant with respect to final outcomes. Conclusion: In its next phase of operations, the Alliance can continue to demonstrate its strength as a highly effective multi-partner enterprise, capable of learning and innovating in a world that has changed much since its inception. By building on its successes, developing more coherent and consistent approaches to address inequities between and within countries and by monitoring progress and outcomes, GAVI is well-positioned to bring the benefits of vaccination to previously unreached and underserved communities towards provision of universal health coverage. © 2015 Gandhi.

Background: To achieve globally or regionally defined accelerated disease control, elimination and eradication (ADC/E/E) goals against vaccine-preventable diseases requires complementing national routine immunization programs with intensive, time-limited, and targeted Supplementary Immunization Activities (SIAs). Many global and country-level SIA costing efforts have historically relied on what are now outdated benchmark figures. Mobilizing adequate resources for successful implementation of SIAs requires updated estimates of non-vaccine costs per target population. Methods. This assessment updates the evidence base on the SIA operational costs through a review of literature between 1992 and 2012, and an analysis of actual expenditures from 142 SIAs conducted between 2004 and 2011 and documented in country immunization plans. These are complemented with an analysis of budgets from 31 SIAs conducted between 2006 and 2011 in order to assess the proportion of total SIA costs per person associated with various cost components. All results are presented in 2010 US dollars. Results: Existing evidence indicate that average SIA operational costs were usually less than US$0.50 per person in 2010 dollars. However, the evidence is sparse, non-standardized, and largely out of date. Average operational costs per person generated from our analysis of country immunization plans are consistently higher than published estimates, approaching US$1.00 for injectable vaccines. The results illustrate that the benchmarks often used to project needs underestimate the true costs of SIAs and the analysis suggests that SIA operational costs have been increasing over time in real terms. Our assessment also illustrates that operational costs vary across several dimensions. Variations in the actual costs of SIAs likely to reflect the extents to which economies of scale associated with campaign-based delivery can be attained, the underlying strength of the immunization program, sensitivities to the relative ease of vaccine administration (i.e. orally, or by injection), and differences in disease-specific programmatic approaches. The assessment of SIA budgets by cost component illustrates that four cost drivers make up the largest proportion of costs across all vaccines: human resources, program management, social mobilization, and vehicles and transportation. These findings suggest that SIAs leverage existing health system infrastructure, reinforcing the fact that strong routine immunization programs are an important pre-requisite for achieving ADC/E/E goals. Conclusions: The results presented here will be useful for national and global-level actors involved in planning, budgeting, resource mobilization, and financing of SIAs in order to create more realistic assessments of resource requirements for both existing ADC/E/E efforts as well as for new vaccines that may deploy a catch-up campaign-based delivery component. However, limitations of our analysis suggest a need to conduct further research into operational costs of SIAs. Understanding the changing face of delivery costs and cost structures for SIAs will continue to be critical to avoid funding gaps and in order to improve vaccination coverage, reduce health inequities, and achieve the ADC/E/E goals many of which have been endorsed by the World Health Assembly and are included in the Decade of Vaccines Global Vaccine Action Plan. © 2014 Gandhi and Lydon; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Murray C.,United Nations Childrens Fund | Newby H.,United Nations Childrens Fund
International Journal of Epidemiology | Year: 2012

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) plays a leading role in the collection, compilation, analysis and dissemination of data to inform sound policies, legislation and programmes for promoting children's rights and well-being, and for global monitoring of progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. UNICEF maintains a set of global databases representing nearly 200 countries and covering the areas of child mortality, child health, maternal health, nutrition, immunization, water and sanitation, HIV/AIDS, education and child protection. These databases consist of internationally comparable and statistically sound data, and are updated annually through a process that draws on a wealth of data provided by UNICEF's wide network of >150 field offices. The databases are composed primarily of estimates from household surveys, with data from censuses, administrative records, vital registration systems and statistical models contributing to some key indicators as well. The data are assessed for quality based on a set of objective criteria to ensure that only the most reliable nationally representative information is included. For most indicators, data are available at the global, regional and national levels, plus sub-national disaggregation by sex, urban/rural residence and household wealth. The global databases are featured in UNICEF's flagship publications, inter-agency reports, including the Secretary General's Millennium Development Goals Report and Countdown to 2015, sector-specific reports and statistical country profiles. They are also publicly available on www.childinfo.org, together with trend data and equity analyses. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the International Epidemiological Association. © The Author 2012; all rights reserved.

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