Avoidable childhood deaths: an analysis by department and municipality in Colombia (2000-2018)

Roja-Botero et al.


To determine the proportion of potentially avoidable deaths in children under five in Colombia, by department and municipality of residence, during the period from 2000 through 2018.


A multi-group and longitudinal ecological study was conducted in 33 departments and 1 118 municipalities over a period of 19 years. The deaths were classified as probably unavoidable or avoidable; the latter were then identified as treatable, preventable, or mixed; and a proportion was calculated relative to the total. Finally, clusters were created by municipality and by department and depicted in coropleth maps.


Between 2000 and 2018, Colombia reported 228 942 deaths of children under five, of which 91.4% were avoidable (68.2% treatable, 6.8% preventable, and 16.5% mixed) with no difference by sex. At the national level, the proportion of avoidability declined from 93.5% to 88.5% during this period. César was the department with the largest proportion of avoidable deaths (94.1%), compared with Santander, which had the smallest (89.0%). At the municipal level, all the deaths were potentially avoidable in 99 municipalities,
whereas Palmar (Santander) had the least (33.3%).


Nine out of 10 of the deaths that occurred in children under five in Colombia during 2000-2018 could have been avoided, mainly through early and better quality medical care. Sizable differences were observed between subnational territories.

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