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Type Journal Article - Archives of Public Health
Title A comparative analysis of socioeconomic inequities in stunting: a case of three middle-income African countries
Volume 76
Issue 77
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2018
Despite increased economic growth and development, and existence of various policies and interventions aimed at improving food security and nutrition, majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa have very high levels of child malnutrition. The prevalence of stunting, an indicator of chronic malnutrition, is especially high. In this paper, we use Demographic and Health Survey datasets from three countries in the region that obtained middle-income status over the last decade (Ghana, Kenya and Zambia), to provide a comparative quantitative assessment of stunting levels, and examine patterns in stunting inequalities between 2007 and 2014. Our analyses reveal that stunting rates decreased in all three countries over the study period, but are still high. In Zambia, 40% of under 5-year olds are stunted, compared to 26% in Kenya and 19% in Ghana. In all three countries, male children and those living in the poorest households have significantly higher levels of stunting. We also observe stark inequalities across socio-economic status, and show that these inequalities have increased over time. Our results reveal that even with economic gains at the national level, there is need for continued focus on improving the socio-economic levels of the poorest households, if child nutritional outcomes are to improve.

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