Civil war and child health: regional and ethnic dimensions of child immunization and malnutrition in Angola

Soc Sci Med. 2003 Jun;56(12):2515-27. doi: 10.1016/s0277-9536(02)00286-1.


This study arises from a general proposition that different levels and types of exposure to war are crucial in shaping health outcomes in a population under war-induced duress. We analyze civil war-related regional and ethnolinguistic differentials in age-adequate immunization (complete vaccination for age) and levels of malnutrition in Angola. Our analysis is based on data from a nationally representative survey conducted in 1996, some 2 years after the end of one of the most destructive periods of hostilities in the history of Angolan civil war. The data show that despite Angola's unique mineral wealth, the nation's levels of child age-adequate immunization is lower and malnutrition rates are higher than in most of sub-Saharan Africa. To examine age-adequate immunization and chronic malnutrition we fit logistic regression models that include the regional degree of war impact and ethnolinguistic group, in addition to rural-urban differences and other conventional sociodemographic characteristics. The tests reveal a significant disadvantage of rural children relative to urban children in both immunization and chronic malnutrition. Net of the rural-urban differences, we also detect a significant disadvantage of children residing in parts of the country that had been most affected by the fighting. The tests also point to a lower level of immunization and higher level of chronic malnutrition among children from the ethnolinguistic group commonly identified with the opposition. These associations tend to be stronger among children who were born and/or grew up during war than among children who were born after peace was re-established.

MeSH terms

  • Africa South of the Sahara / epidemiology
  • Angola / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Child Welfare*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs / statistics & numerical data*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Nutrition Disorders / epidemiology
  • Nutrition Disorders / ethnology*
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Rural Health
  • Urban Health
  • Vaccination / statistics & numerical data*
  • Warfare*