Taking on the Myths of Child Mortality

Hans Rosling, whose fantastic animated-data talks have been featured here before, has a new one about child-mortality trends:

The video was timed to coincide with the release of Bill Gates‘s 2013 Annual Letter, which notes successful health reforms in Ethiopia and the importance of quality measurements.  “[A]ny innovation — whether it’s a new vaccine or an improved seed — can’t have an impact unless it reaches the people who will benefit from it,” writes Gates. “That’s why in this year’s letter I discuss how innovations in measurement are critical to finding new, effective ways to deliver these tools and services to the clinics, family farms, and classrooms that need them.”

(HT: New Security Beat)


interesting info.....i wonder how much of that comes from the spread of democracy as well as the spread of access to health care and family planning?


I'd wonder whether democracy doesn't instead increase child mortality, as for instance all the children who've died in the US & UK because parents chose not vaccinate them in response to various falsehoods spread by the "democratic" free media.

Gordon Brooks

Wow, this guy packs more important information into a couple of minutes than many speakers do in half an hour. And not only is the data animated, so is Hans!

Honestly, you guys find the coolest stuff!


That's a myth I'm happy to see busted! It's also one of the best uses of graphs/visuals I've ever seen.


Very engaging presentation. Wondering if the data has been adjusted to account for inconsistent measurements of infant mortality between countries. For example, the U.S. typically falls behind nearly every other "developed" country in measured infant mortality because the U.S. considers every baby born who shows some evidence of life to be born alive (generalization; google around for particulars), but many other countries tack on additional requirements, such as living for 24 hours or being a certain size. As a result, the U.S. reports a higher percentage of live births that subsequently die than other nations.


the River Of Myths helps educate us about country level disparities and the great leveling that occurs when public health, especially child and maternal mortality rates are lowered through focused and sustained resourcing. However, the averages often hide internal disparities.

While Hans Rosling points out the concentrations in Ethiopia, many middle income countries are able to hide ethnic disparities quite well through the averaging technique. Mexico simply does not count indigenous people as a sub population, but despite their very high mortality rates due to health conditions, it avoids measuring and therefore reporting on it. The US does not make much noise about its high concentrations of TB among indigenous people either, some 5 to 13 times higher than the Anglo population (CDC: 2008) Knowing about these disparities is only the beginning, demanding a shift in resource allocation is the missing link that requires more unpleasant tasks.


Voice of Reason

Yeah, I'm that guy:

If Freakonomics is is the study of unintended consequences, maybe we should examine the futility of keeping 3rd world people alive and reproducing when they'll just bring more people into the world that can't be supported at a faster rate than civilized countries.


But it clearly showed, and he stated, that the number of births drops accordingly, and we know for a fact that all developed countries are headed below the sustainable population number of 2 (many are already there) so if anything population decline now seems likely. There have been other articles in the past few months pointing this out. Which is great!

Even the capital of Ethiopia dropped below 2 really fast!