Infant Mortality Rate as an Indicator of Population Health

Infant Mortality Rate as an Indicator of Population Health

1. Define the following and provide an example for each Key Health Status Indicator:

· Infant mortality rate

· Life expectancy at birth

· Maternity mortality ratio

· Under-5 mortality rate

· Health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE)

· Disability-adjusted life year (DALY)

2. If you could select only one indicator to describe the health status of a developing country, which indicator would you pick and why?






Global health needs constant evaluation to measure the outcomes of all the interventions that have been used on determinants of health. The use of metrics in health is used to help in assessing the overall health of a population. Global health metrics are used to show health status indicators, risk factors indicators, service coverage indicators and health system indicators.

Infant mortality rate

This is the likelihood that a child born in a specific period will die before reaching the age of one year. It is calculated as the number of newborns in a specific region that will die before reaching one year divided by the number of live birth in the region multiplied by 1000. The social indicator shows the socioeconomic conditions the child lives in as it measures child survival.

Life expectancy at birth

This is the average number of years that a newborn baby is expected to live by passing through life subject to the mortality rates of specific ages at a certain period (WHO, 2015). This is an indicator based on specific death rates of age and sex.

Maternity mortality ratio

This is the number of female deaths linked with pregnancy and can be during pregnancy, childbirth or 42 days after termination of pregnancy. The ratio is expressed per 100,000 live births for a specified period. The numerator is the number of maternal deaths and the indicator is mortality by cause.


Under-5 mortality rate

This is the likelihood that a child born within a specific period will reach the age of five, given the contemporary age-specific death rates. The indicator is expressed as the number of deaths per 1000 live births. The health indicator shows the social and economic conditions the child lives in.

Health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE)

This indicator shows the number of full heath years a person can live given the contemporary age-specific death rates (Labbe, 2010). The indicator looks at the quality of life and measures life expectancy based on sex and level of development of the country.

Disability-adjusted life year (DALY)

This indicator shows the burden of disease for different population as it shows the time lost due to premature death and years lived in disability. In the calculation one DALY shows the loss which is equal to one year full health.

Infant Mortality rate for Developing Country

A study by Reidpath and Allotey (2003) determined that Infant Mortality rate can be used to measure the health of a population. This study was to show that Infant Mortality rate covered more areas of health rather than what critiques said. Developing countries have high Infant Mortality rates due to various issues like environmental and social barriers which usually prevent access to health. This indicator shows the health position of developing countries where deaths occur due to preventable diseases, premature births, infections and birth complications. According to the World Factbook all the top 50 countries with the highest Infant Mortality rates are developing countries. This shows the current health position for developing countries. However, there is improvement being made in reducing Infant Mortality rate in developing countries with most of these countries being able to invest more in healthcare.


Global health metrics are important as they are able to estimate the strain of disease, disability and death. Infant mortality rate is highest in developing countries showing the level of healthcare in these countries. This also shows what needs to be done to reduce the infant mortality rate in developing countries.