On Fertility and Mortality Reports

Two weeks ago, Madam Penehupifo Pohamba, the First Lady of the Republic of Namibia, launched the Fertility and Mortality Reports of the Namibia Statistics Agency. These new publications are part of our ongoing thematic reports as per data collected during the last census. Both reports will provide us with a better understanding of our fertility and mortality situation in the country. The findings in these reports are useful to estimate the future population growth, inform the government on the situation of fertility and mortality and on whether the population is able to reproduce itself or not.

The Fertility Report shows that fertility levels in Namibia are amongst the lowest in sub Saharan Africa. Furthermore, the total fertility rate, which is the number of births a woman would expect to have during her lifetime, show that there has been a downward trend over the past two decades but is still above the replacement level. However, regional estimates indicate high fertility levels in some of the predominantly rural regions and constituencies. It is also worth noting that fertility levels are high amongst young people in Namibia.

The report also found that education, marital status and employment status of women have a significant influence on their decision on whether to have children or not. Married women tend to have more children than unmarried ones, whilst the more educated a woman is, the less children she tends to give birth to. In addition, homemakers, unemployed women, women in subsistence farming and unpaid family workers experience high fertility levels. Looking at the findings of the Fertility Report shows that the target to reduce fertility rates to 3.5 children by 2015, as stipulated in the Namibia Population Policy, is no longer necessary due to the fact that the fertility rate continues to decline even below the set target.

The mortality report on the other hand, informs us about deaths in our society. Life expectancy at birth in Namibia is 53.3 for males, 60.5 for females, and 56.8 for both sexes combined. There was a five-year improvement in life expectancy since the 2001 census, when overall mortality was 52 years. This means people are now expected to live longer than it was the case in 2001.

Mortality varies widely across regions and urban and rural areas. Life expectancy in urban areas exceeds that of rural areas by more than 6 years. In addition to age, sex, and region, other social characteristics affect mortality and health of individuals. For example, higher levels of education of mothers are associated with better chances of infant survival. In addition, women who were widowed, divorced or separated had higher infant mortality. When questioned about the causes of death the most common cause reported was illness, which accounted for over seventy-five (75%) of all deaths. For males, the next common cause was accidents followed by suicide and murder.

On the other hand, the other common causes of death for females were maternal-related incidents. Age of mothers is highly correlated with infant deaths. Biologically, child bearing at a too young age or too old age is a health risk and is associated with high deaths among young and old mothers.

In conclusion, it is worth noting that the quality of life is improving. However, the population is still experiencing high death rates among infants, children and adults. The reports are available from tomorrow and you are encouraged to get a copy from the NSA Head Offices and through our website: www.nsa.org.na. *Iipumbu Sakaria is the Deputy Director for Strategic Communications at the NSA.

Source : New Era