Does educating women boost vaccinations?

From BBC - October 8, 2017

Throughout history the empowerment of women has been linked to their education, which brings benefits not only to the women's own lives but to the lives of their children too.

In developing countries, research shows a strong link between the education of mothers and immunisation of children against preventable diseases such as polio, diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, measles and tuberculosis.

Estimates suggest that a quarter of deaths of children under the age of five could be prevented by vaccines available today.

Developing countries: more education, more vaccination

In Sub-Saharan Africa, deaths of under-fives remain high.

A recent analysis of immunisation in Nigeria found that only 6% of children of illiterate mothers received all the vaccinations compared with24% of children in the whole population.

The picture in lower-income countries across the world is similar.

A study in India found that with each higher level of a mother's education, children were more likely to be completely immunised.

The largest increases, however, were found for mothers with any primary or upper primary education, compared to mothers with no education.

Research in developing countries also points out that other factors play a part: mothers who are better educated are better off and live in more affluent areas where healthcare, including child immunisation, is more available.

But even when adjustments are made for household wealth and the average community education, a Unesco report from 2015 says that giving all women in lower-income countries at least secondary education would mean more than four in 10 children who currently get no immunisation against diphtheria, tetanus and whooping cough would be much more likely to receive it.

Developed countries: the trend reverses

There is evidence that the relationship between education and immunisation in developed countries reverses.

A US study using data from 2003 on 11,860 children across the country found that the mothers with less than 12 years of education were more likely to complete their children's immunisation than the mothers with college degrees.

The researchers were not sure why this was the case but quoted factors such as positive cultural attitudes towards the needs of young children among Hispanics who, in general, receive less formal education than other ethnic groups in the US.


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