The impact of antiretroviral treatment and child-focused unconditional cash transfers on child mortality

Although there is sufficient evidence in the epidemiological literature that antiretroviral treatment (ART) reduces child mortality, there is limited evidence of its effect in the socio-economic determinants of child mortality literature. Furthermore, evidence on the effect of child focused unconditional cash transfers (UCTs) on child mortality is limited, especially in the African context. Using South Africa's provincial level data over the period 2001 to 2019, we evaluate the effect of ART and child focused UCTs on child mortality. We use the two-stage instrumental variable mean group estimator. We find that ART reduces child mortality. Moreover, we find an inverted U-shaped non-linear relationship between UCTs and child mortality that is contingent to the level of cash transfer coverage. Our analyses also reveal that UCTs improve the effect of ART on child mortality by enhancing access and adherence to treatment. While the focus of our analyses was on the child mortality effects of ART and UCTs, our findings reaffirm the well-documented impacts of factors such as public health expenditure, HIV/AIDS, female education, and health worker density on child mortality. Collectively, the combination of high ART and UCTs coverage, increased public health expenditure, enhanced female education, and improved health worker density, represents value for money for policymakers and funders. These areas should be prioritised to improve child well-being.