Socioeconomic determinants of early childhood health in Colombia: exploring the role of context

Ana María Osorio Mejía

June 14, 2013

Catalina Bolancé

The overall aim of this thesis is to contribute to an understanding of the pathways through which structural and intermediary determinants influence child health in Colombia and how they operate through the context where children live in a more comprehensive way than has been determined to date. Colombia has made significant progress in child health in the last few decades and it is currently on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDG). Nearly 90% of the goals on global malnutrition, infant mortality rate and under-five mortality rate have been achieved. However, despite the progress, national averages remain masking huge territorial disparities. While some regions present figures similar to those of a developed country, others report indicators similar to those of a very poor African country. Some municipalities, for example, record no stunted children, whereas in others, the prevalence of chronic malnutrition is greater than 50%. In this context, empirical research that enhances our understanding of socioeconomic determinants of child health and guide policy-making is crucial in order to reduce place-based health inequities in Colombia.