Dimensions of pre -HIV /AIDS mortality in Cameroon

Martin Wultoff Bangha, University of Pennsylvania


Besides the absence of reliable data in Sub-Saharan Africa, understanding of mortality has been hampered in part by the underutilization of existing data. This dissertation improves general knowledge and understanding of the dimensions of adult mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa by considering Cameroon which has experienced severe economic dislocations alongside human and natural disasters in recent decades. Using mainly census data, we apply two identities of the variable-r techniques to estimate adult mortality at national level. We consider the period 1976-1987 as the pre-HIV/AIDS era since the first officially documented cases in Cameroon were in 1987. In view of methodological limitations of variable-r techniques for sub-national analysis, we employ the orphanhood technique to examine regional disparities in adult mortality. Results show high adult mortality especially among men and remarkable regional disparities. Results also suggest that urbanization and modernization is greater advantage for female than for men. The test for applicability of existing model life tables to Cameroonian mortality patterns suggests no resemblance with HIV/AIDS affected populations. However, comparing the age pattern to that from the latest survey, we observe that adult mortality increased over the last decade of the 20th century. This increase is noticeable in the peak productive and reproductive ages: 30-45 for men and 20-35 for women; which incidentally correspond to the so-called 'AIDS years'. Further investigation with more recent data is needed to determine whether this is real, and to re-examine the regional disparities. We also examine childhood mortality risks with attention to the significance of water supply, sanitation and seasonality. The results are consistent with intuition that source of drinking water is crucial for childhood survival chances. The influence of sanitation facilities and birth quarter is strong only during the toddler years; presumably due to the protection afforded by close parental attention. In a predominantly agricultural economy like Cameroon, a healthy and sizable labor force is crucial for economic development and for the wellbeing of dependent populations. It is therefore important to ensure not only children's survival through the early critical years but that they can enjoy a healthy and productive life contributing to develop their community.

Subject Area

Environmental Health|Public health|Demography

Recommended Citation

Bangha, Martin Wultoff, "Dimensions of pre -HIV /AIDS mortality in Cameroon" (2009). Dissertations available from ProQuest. AAI3395680.