By Gatonye Gathura
For the first time, Kenya registered more than a million births last year with 27,248 more boys than girls.
While this may be good news for the boy child the data also shows 20,641 more men than women died during the same period.
The Economic Survey 2019 shows 1,135,378 or 74 per cent of births were recorded last year.
This was a significant improvement from the 923,487 or 60 per cent registered the previous year and the first time Kenya has managed to cross the one million mark.
The high registration has been attributed to increased number of women giving birth in health facilities in response to government provided free maternal services.
Deaths registration data cited in the survey suggests about 100,000 more men than women died in the last five years.
The survey indicates there have been consistently higher births as well as deaths of males than females in the last five years.
The last national census of 2009 reported 225,181 more women than men.
Explaining the higher death rates affecting males, the National Council for Population and Development (NCPD), of the Ministry of Health says gender biased diseases and policies may be to blame.
The council in its report: The State of Kenya Population 2017 says adult men in Kenya are 14 per cent more likely to die before reaching age 60 compared to women.
This NCPD says this is due to deliberate efforts made since 1998 to address maternal and HIV related deaths in women.
“These efforts have significantly reduced the death rates among women aged 15 to 35 compared to males.”
During this period, the council says the life expectancy for males increased by 2.2 years while that for females rose by 2.5 years.
The demographers say while women are prone to frequent illness and more likely to visit hospitals, they are less likely to die than men.
“Women have higher illnesses that rarely cause death, while men have higher rates of diseases that are leading causes of death,” says the council.
Due to their biological makeup, the council explains women are more susceptible to many infections caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, and fungi.
“Women tend to have more minor illnesses and nonfatal chronic diseases, while men have more fatal chronic diseases and higher mortality rates,” says the report.
But also men, especially at younger ages, data shows are highly prone to violent deaths.
A study published in 2017 by the Ministry of Health on patterns of violence and injuries in Nairobi reported this almost exclusive to young men.
The team had reviewed 11,443 death certificates at the Department of Civil Registration for a six month period.
Deaths resulting from injuries were 1,208 accounting for 10.6 per cent of all recorded deaths.
Majority of the deaths resulting from injuries, 48 per cent occurred in persons aged 25 to 44 years with males accounting for 85 per cent of all the cases.
Closely related to violent deaths the Economic Survey 2019 shows in the last five years 5,596 men have been sentenced to death compared to only 170 women.
During the same period 1,120 men died in Kenya prisons from non-execution causes compared to 47 women.
Last year the World Population Review reported the number of suicides in Kenya to have gone up by 58 per cent between 2008 and 2017 to reach 421 of which 330 were men.
The World Health Organisation’s Global Status Report estimated that four out of every 100 deaths in Kenya in 2016 was as a result of alcohol mainly among young men
Alcohol abuse among young men has also been linked to road accidents fatalities and HIV deaths due to risky sex behaviour.
The 2018 Kenya HIV Estimates Report indicated about 51 per cent of people dying of Aids-related illnesses were men at 13,800 compared with 10,100 women.
This was attributed to poor health-seeking behaviour, cultural socialization, and alcohol intake. Alcohol has been found to affect the working of HIV medicines and drug adherence.
It is estimated that about 107 boys are born for every 100 girls globally; boys, however, experience higher deaths during early infancy.
Health experts have linked this to greater biological susceptibility of boys to congenital anomalies and infectious diseases.
Data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics shows Kenya population as characterized with slightly more boys than girls at 0-20 years from where the females gain a small advantage.
The number of women continues to outstrip males with the gap becoming quite significant by age 65 and even more pronounced by age 80.
According to the 2009 national census, there were 38 million Kenyans with 19,192,458 males and 19,417,639 females showing women were slightly more than men by 225,181.
38 million – number of Kenyans 2009 census
225,181 more females
1,135,378 or 74 per cent registered births
51.2 per cent male births 48.8 per cent females
187,655 registered deaths
55.5 percent male deaths 44.5 per cent females