Longitudinal mortality data with few deaths usually have problems of zero-inflation. This paper presents and applies two Bayesian models which cater for zero-inflation, spatial and temporal random effects. To reduce the computational burden experienced when a large number of geo-locations are treated as a Gaussian field (GF) we transformed the field to a Gaussian Markov Random Fields (GMRF) by triangulation. We then modelled the spatial random effects using the Stochastic Partial Differential Equations (SPDEs). Inference was done using a computationally efficient alternative to Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) called Integrated Nested Laplace Approximation (INLA) suited for GMRF. The models were applied to data from 71,057 children aged 0 to under 10 years from rural north-east South Africa living in 15,703 households over the years 1992-2010. We found protective effects on HIV/TB mortality due to greater birth weight, older age and more antenatal clinic visits during pregnancy (adjusted RR (95% CI)): 0.73(0.53;0.99), 0.18(0.14;0.22) and 0.96(0.94;0.97) respectively. Therefore childhood HIV/TB mortality could be reduced if mothers are better catered for during pregnancy as this can reduce mother-to-child transmissions and contribute to improved birth weights. The INLA and SPDE approaches are computationally good alternatives in modelling large multilevel spatiotemporal GMRF data structures.
Keywords: Agincourt South Africa; Big “N”; GMRF; HIV/TB mortality; INLA SPDE; Spatiotemporal; Zero inflated.