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Jamaica gets high marks for improved infant mortality, life expectancy

Wednesday, November 02, 2011    

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JAMAICA compares favourably with the rest of the world in improved infant mortality, life expectancy and fertility rates.

This was disclosed by Minister of Health Rudyard Spencer, in a message read by Chief Medical Officer Dr Eva Lewis-Fuller, during the launch of the World Population Report (2011) at the Victoria Jubilee Hospital in Kingston on Monday.

"If we look at the figures for infant mortality, for example, in 1944, it was 98.7 per 1,000 live births. This means that 10 per cent of babies born would die. Today the infant mortality rate stands at 19 per 1,000 live births. Life expectancy at birth at that time was 52.9 years; today it is 71.5 for males and 75 for females, an average of 73 years. The total fertility rate now stands at 2.3, moving from as high as 5.5 in 1970, thus trending towards replacement fertility of two children per woman," the minister said.

Spencer also reported that the country's immunisation programme has made tremendous impact to eliminate and reduce vaccine-preventable diseases and deaths.

"While Jamaica has maintained relatively high vaccination coverage for many years since 1995, there was some slippage during the late 1990s and early 2000s, with average coverage ebbing at about 83 per cent and below for some vaccines. Since 2009, however, the average coverage has rebounded to 90 per cent and above, outstanding achievements given the environment of resource challenges," he said.

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