Objectives: To analyze the chief characteristics of childrens and adolescents mortality in Manguinhos, Rio de Janeiro , between 1996 and 2000, and to relate their mortality to local living conditions.
Methodology: Qualitative-quantitative, analyzing data from the Mortality Information System and via semi-structured interviews.
Results: The neighborhood of Manguinhos lies in a suburban zone of the municipality of Rio de Janeiro . Manguinhos comprises 12 communities, manifesting poverty, social exclusion, drug traffic, and endemic violence. In the metropolitan area of Rio de Janeiro , Manguinhos has the highest proportion of deaths among infants less than one year of age. Manguinhos is the only neighborhood whose mortality index has steadily risen between 1996 and 1999. In 2000, this figure went down markedly, due to the decline in neonatal mortality.
The principal causes of death among children and adolescents are: external (traffic accidents, drowning, burns, homicides, etc.) and perinatal infections (59.3% of recorded deaths). External causes were the most important in 1996, 1997, and 2000.
The great majority of deaths of children and adolescents in Manguinhos are due to avoidable causes, indicating that problems exist in getting access to health services. In fact, the distribution of healthcare centers in the area of covered by Manguinhos is very limited and, for certain sections, difficult to access physically. Sanitation conditions (potable water and sewers) are precarious, which facilitates the growth and spread of infectious and parasitical diseases and contributes to child mortality.
Deaths of adolescents from violent causes are related to drug trafficking. Mortality is highest among young men.
Conclusions: The picture of mortality in Manguinhos can be reversed, if the social elements that comprise it are given priority treatment by the state, through coherent and coordinated public policies. Organized civil society should influence the state to undertake local development initiatives that improve the populations living conditions.
Copyright 2007 University of New Mexico