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Prime-age adult mortality in sub-Saharan Africa: examining trends in Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 1990 and 2014
Authors: Henry V. Doctor, and Ifeyinwa E. Udo
Source: Journal of Population Research, 34(4): 373–386; DOI:
Topic(s): Adult mortality
Country: Africa
  Multiple African Countries
Published: DEC 2017
Abstract: Adult mortality rate is a critical indicator used to assess the level of national development in most sub-Saharan African countries. However, estimation of adult mortality rates requires comprehensive and accurate reporting of adult deaths, which is one of the challenges faced by most sub-Saharan African countries. Using data from Demographic and Health Surveys conducted between 1990 and 2014 in 25 countries in sub-Saharan Africa, we examine trends in all-cause prime adult mortality (measured by the probability of dying between exact ages 15 and 50) and sex differences in adult mortality by region. Our paper provides a basis for tracking progress in reducing adult mortality and improving overall health. The median probability of dying was 173 per 1000 for women in the latest surveys, an increase from 166 per 1000 during the initial surveys. The median value for men was 177 per 1000; a decrease from the initial surveys which was 202 per 1000. Across all countries, the average annual increase in the probability of dying was higher for women (1.08%) than men (0.49%). Intensive efforts are needed to improve adult survival and ensure that sub-Saharan Africa achieves the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. In particular, efforts to mitigate the premature risk of dying among women need to be intensified. Keywords Adult mortality Maternal health Maternal mortality Sub-Saharan Africa