Measuring the Burden of Malaria in West Africa: Are Levels of Childhood Anemia a Good Proxy?

K. Fern Greenwell, ORC Macro
Melissa Neuman, ORC Macro

Malaria is the major cause of morbidity and mortality in young children in sub-Saharan Africa. The impact of malaria on child mortality levels, however, has been difficult to quantify with empirical data. In malaria-endemic areas, anemia is a more common complication of malaria in children than death. This study explores the relationship between anemia in young children and malaria prevalence, in order to determine whether measurements of childhood anemia provide a good proxy for tracking changes in malaria morbidity. A logistic regression analysis is employed to estimate the effects of malaria prevalence on children’s anemia levels while controlling for child nutrition and other factors believed to relate to anemia. Individual-level information on children in five sub-Saharan African countries includes geographically-linked data from two sources: the Mapping Malaria Risk in Africa (MARA) project, which models the distribution of malaria prevalence, and child health and socio-demographic information from the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS).

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Presented in Session 106: Using Biomarkers to Validate Alternative Measures of Health in Developing Countries