• Open Access

Measuring progress towards achieving Millennium Development Goals in small populations: is under-five mortality in Tuvalu declining?


  • The authors have stated they have no conflict of interest.


Objectives: Infant mortality rates (IMR) and under-five mortality rates (U5MR) in Tuvalu (2010 population 11,149) for 1990–2011 were evaluated to determine best estimates of levels and trends.

Methods: Estimates were graphed over time to identify trends/inconsistencies, and censored for reliability/plausibility. Where possible, 95% confidence intervals (CIs) and tests for linear trend were calculated.

Results: Ministry of Health (MoH) data indicates IMR and U5MR (per 1,000 live births) declined over 1990–2008: IMR 62 (95%CI 46–81) for 1991–93 (51 deaths) to 19 (95%CI 10–33) for 2006–08 (12 deaths); U5MR 67 (95%CI 50–87) for 1991–93 (55 deaths) to 19 (95%CI 10–33) for 2006–08 (12 deaths). The 2007 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) suggests recent trends are increasing: IMR 24 for 1998–2002 to 31 (95%CI 20–42) for 2003–07; U5MR 29 for 1998–2002 to 36 (95%CI 30–43) for 2003–07 (deaths not provided). Tests for linear trend and 95%CIs indicate MoH declines are statistically significant, but recent increased estimates from DHS are not, and could be affected by recall bias.

Conclusions: Small populations provide challenges in interpretation of IMR/U5MR trends. To ensure the correct interpretation of rates, CIs (95%) and tests for trend should be calculated. Tuvalu has experienced steady decline in IMR/U5MR over the past 20 years.