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BackgroundMajor improvements are required in the coverage and quality of essential childhood interventions to achieve Millennium Development Goal Four (MDG 4). Long distance to health facilities is one of the known barriers to access. We investigated the effect of networked and Euclidean distances from home to formal health facilities on childhood mortality in rural Tanzania between 2005 and 2007.MethodsA secondary analysis of data from a cohort of 28,823 children younger than age 5 between 2005 and 2007 from Ifakara Health and Demographic Surveillance System was carried out. Both Euclidean and networked distances from the household to the nearest health facility were calculated using geographical information system methods. Cox proportional hazard regression models were used to investigate the effect of distance from home to the nearest health facility on child mortality.ResultsChildren who lived in homes with networked distance>5 km experienced approximately 17% increased mortality risk (HR=1.17; 95% CI 1.02-1.38) compared to those who lived <5 km networked distance to the nearest health facility. Death of a mother (HR=5.87; 95% CI 4.11-8.40), death of preceding sibling (HR=1.9; 95% CI 1.37-2.65), and twin birth (HR=2.9; 95% CI 2.27-3.74) were the strongest independent predictors of child mortality.ConclusionsPhysical access to health facilities is a determinant of child mortality in rural Tanzania. Innovations to improve access to health facilities coupled with birth spacing and care at birth are needed to reduce child deaths in rural Tanzania.

Original publication





Global health action

Publication Date





1 - 9


Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa.


Humans, Population Surveillance, Child Mortality, Infant Mortality, Proportional Hazards Models, Risk Factors, Child, Preschool, Infant, Rural Population, Health Services Accessibility, Tanzania, Female, Male, Kaplan-Meier Estimate