Society for Social Work and Research

Sixteenth Annual Conference Research That Makes A Difference: Advancing Practice and Shaping Public Policy
11-15 January 2012 I Grand Hyatt Washington I Washington, DC

16252 Geographic, Caste and Ethnic Disparity In Child Health In Nepal

Friday, January 13, 2012: 2:30 PM
Independence D (Grand Hyatt Washington)
* noted as presenting author
Gyanesh Lama, PhD Student, Washington University in Saint Louis, St. Louis, MO
Purpose: Since the 1970s, it has become increasingly clear that geography and race play a significant role in determining individuals' access to needed health services. However, this work has been conducted among welfare population in developed countries. The extent to which geographic and ethnic disparities exist among poor people in developing countries and the factors that contribute to such disparities are currently unknown. We use data from a national sample of women in Nepal to quantify the magnitude and predictors of geographic and ethnic disparities in child health among women of various ethnic and caste groups in Nepal.

Methods: We used data from the Demographic and Health Survey Nepal 2006 (N=10,793), the national study of population and health containing information on PSU level geographic variables. We used multilevel logistic regression to obtain probabilities of child deaths among women across 260 geographic communities. We used these probabilities to construct a GIS map to graphically represent changes in, and the statistical significance of, probability of child deaths conditional upon mothers' characteristics, household characteristics, and geographic characteristics.

Results: Controlling for demographics and other covariates, survey participants in our sample displayed statistically significant variation in probabilities of child deaths, ranging from 18.85% (Brahmin caste group) to 34% (Magar ethnic group) across caste and ethnic groups. However the disparity was much greater across geographic communities ranging between 0% (in PSU 2705) and 73.68% (in PSU 6802). Controlling for individual level poverty and other characteristics did not bridge the gap that existed between different geographic, caste and ethnic communities.

Implications: Women in Nepal display almost two-fold variation across caste/ethnic and over 70-folds variations across geographic communities in probabilities of child deaths. Such variation can be explained neither by individual characteristics, nor by local development indicators. Attention to the intrinsic development practice is necessary to determine if these variations are reflective of the institutional characteristics of the communities in which the vulnerable population reside.

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