Here are some key figures from the survey:
- The fertility rate in Tanzania has not changed in ten years and Tanzanian women have an average of 5.7 children. This is one of the higher fertility rates in East Africa.
- More than 25% of young women age 15-19 have begun childbearing.
- Infant and child mortality decreased markedly in the past five years. The 2004-05 Tanzanian DHS found an under-five mortality rate of 112 deaths per 1,000 live births, compared to a rate of 147 five years ago. This is one of the lowest mortality rates in East Africa, and yet one in nine children in Tanzania dies before his or her fifth birthday.
- Other child health indicators also improved. More infants are being exclusively breastfed now than in 1999. Vitamin A supplementation, which helps prevent blindness and infection, rose three-fold since the last survey with almost half of children under age 5 now receiving vitamin A supplements. Young children are also facing fewer nutritional challenges now than before.
- Doctors recommend that all children under age 5 and pregnant women sleep under insecticide-treated bednets (ITNs) to prevent malaria. In Tanzania, only 16% of young children and 16% of pregnant women slept under an ITN the night before the survey.
These indicators are important measures that guide worldwide efforts to Make Poverty History. The grinding poverty of the poorest countries needs to be fought on many fronts simultaneously – the economy, education, health, infrastructure and governance all need systemic improvement.
The School of St Jude has taken the clear msision to Fight Poverty through Education. I will write tomorrow about a project that will make a big difference to Tanzania on the aspect of governance.