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Health & Fitness

After census, let’s look at what really counts

The census is one of the highlights for
The census is one of the highlights for planning officials and politicians in 2019. For government, it serves as a scorecard on health system managers, economists and demographers’ achievements since the last one. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

The census is one of the highlights for planning officials and politicians in 2019. For government, it serves as a scorecard on health system managers, economists and demographers’ achievements since the last one. For health entrepreneurs, it is a black box for analysis on where to expand or which services to venture into.

Whatever the findings, as far as healthcare is concerned, what really counts is tying population growth and economic activities with health outcomes. Consumption of census data must not be in isolation and that is why the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD) 2017 report is a must read.

The publication offers a mosaic of data from the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), Kenya Demographic and Health Survey (KDHS), Kenya Household Health Expenditure Survey, creating linkages and informing the basis of trends in the inter-censal period. Its top four data set analysis includes changes in household dynamics versus age groups, population health expenditure, food security as well as the shifting social/family structures. It also has quick stats on the economic impact of the shifting demographics.

Dependency ratio, a proxy of the economic burden and responsibility borne by the working-age population stood at 122 per 100 working persons. According to the KNBS “There were 20,374,300 people aged 15-64, but only 17, 875,800 reported to be employed, indicating 1,435,800 were unemployed within the same age group. Has this worsened with the current economic woes?

Away from the aggregate population data, regional variations in numbers, fertility trends, and economic growth as well as densities are useful. One cannot separate population growth from economic changes.

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What expected shifts in household dynamics can we anticipate. The NCPD report notes that, “The average household size now stands at 3.9 persons as at 2014, having declined from an average of 5.3 in 1969. The average number of children per household was 2.6.”

This census marks the free primary education’s cohort entry to adulthood in an era of diverse sexual orientation, new views on marriage and divorce, waning cultural norms and traditions on marriage and increasing secularism. All these in addition to more educated and financially independent women are potential determinants of family sizes.

It also notes proportion of persons’ aged 60 and above who live alone rose to 13 percent in 2014, while those who are over 80 rose to 17 percent.

In a nutshell, out of every 10 people aged 40 today, upon reaching 60, two could be living alone.

Finally, it warns that regardless of advances in food production, a population growth rate beyond ideal will be the main reason for food insecurity. It will be interesting to see what the new numbers mean in terms of average acreage per household and livelihoods for most families.

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