Cause-specific mortality and socioeconomic status in Chakaria, Bangladesh

Type Journal Article - Global health action
Title Cause-specific mortality and socioeconomic status in Chakaria, Bangladesh
Volume 7
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Bangladesh has achieved remarkable gains in health indicators during the last four decades despite low levels of economic development. However, the persistence of inequities remains disturbing. This success was also accompanied by health and demographic transitions, which in turn brings new challenges for a nation that has yet to come to terms with pre-transition health challenges. It is therefore important to understand the causes of death and their relationship with socioeconomic status (SES).
The paper aims to assess the causes of death by SES based on surveillance data from a rural area of Bangladesh, in order to understand the situation and inform policy makers and programme leaders.
We analysed population-based mortality data collected from the Chakaria Health and Demographic Surveillance System in Bangladesh. The causes of death were determined by using a Bayesian-based programme for interpreting verbal autopsy findings (InterVA-4). The data included 1,391 deaths in 217,167 person-years of observation between 2010 and 2012. The wealth index constructed using household assets was used to assess the SES, and disease burdens were compared among the wealth quintiles.
Analysing cause of death (CoD) revealed that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) were the leading causes of deaths (37%), followed by communicable diseases (CDs) (22%), perinatal and neonatal conditions (11%), and injury and accidents (6%); the cause of remaining 24% of deaths could not be determined. Age-specific mortality showed premature birth, respiratory infections, and drowning were the dominant causes of death for childhood mortality (0–14 years), which was inversely associated with SES (p<0.04). For adult and the elderly (15 years and older), NCDs were the leading cause of death (51%), followed by CDs (23%). For adult and the elderly, NCDs concentrated among the population from higher SES groups (p<0.005), and CDs among the lower SES groups (p<0.001).
Epidemiologic transition is taking place with a shift from the dominance of CDs to NCDs. SES inequity in mortality still persists – the poor suffer from CDs in all age groups, whereas those better off suffer more from NCDs than CDs. Policy makers thus need to consider the social distribution of diseases before developing any public health action targeted towards reducing mortality and the extent of disease burden in an equitable manner.

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