Levels and trends in under-five mortality in Zimbabwe: findings from an analysis of recent Demographic and Health Surveys

Joshua Kembo, Jeroen K. Van Ginneken



This study describes levels and trends in infant and childhood mortality in Zimbabwe over the past 50 years with emphasis on the past fifteen years. The most important data source consisted of four Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) surveys conducted in Zimbabwe between 1988 and 2005-06. Under-five mortality increased between 1990-1994 and 1995-1999 (from 77 per 1,000 live births to 102) and declined from 1995-1999 to 2001-2005 (from 102 to 82). The decline in this last period, as derived from Zimbabwe DHS 2005-06, was unexpected and probably not genuine. A great deal of evidence is presented to support the view that this decline in mortality probably did not take place. It is much more likely that both infant and under-five mortality increased in the period between 1995-1999 and 2001-2005. Using various procedures, this study estimates that the under-five mortality rate would actually be about 110 per 1,000 live births in 2001-2005 instead of 82 as observed in the Zimbabwe DHS 2005-06. These and other results are expected to assist policy makers and programme managers in the child health sector to formulate appropriate strategies to improve the health and well-being of children under-five in Zimbabwe.Joshua KEMBO, Senior Researcher, Bureau of Market Research, University of South Africa (UNISA), Muckleneuk Campus, P.O Box 392, Pretoria 0003, Republic of South Africa. E-mail:

Jeroen K. VAN GINNEKEN, Honorary Fellow, Netherlands Interdisciplinary Demographic Institute (NIDI) PO Box 11650, 2502 AR, The Hague, Netherlands. Visiting Professor, School of Health Systems and Public Health, University of Pretoria, South Africa. E-mail:



Childhood mortality, infant mortality, under-5 mortality, HIV/AIDS, Demographic and Health Survey, levels and trends, Zimbabwe

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ISSN: 2035-5556

Reg. Tribunale di Roma n. 3321/54