Child Mortality Rate in Sierra Leone
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There are various international organizations in the world which track the quality of life in different countries. They classify the states into the most developed, developing and the least developed ones. Such a measure allows choosing countries with the most insufficient economy and numerous problems in order to assist them. World Health Organization and other relating bodies use various markers determining the level of development of economic, cultural, health and other spheres. One of the most critical indexes is the child mortality rate because it shows the death ratio in the most insecure social group. Therefore, the countries with the highest child mortality ratio require thorough attention and analysis that will allow improving the situation. Apparently, one of the countries which suffer from the mentioned above problem is Sierra Leone. The following paper investigates the reasons which have led to this issue. Moreover, it proposes certain solutions that may assist in managing this critical situation. The implementation of the proposed measures would provide continuous improvement and increase the level of social care services for children in Sierra Leone.
The Analysis of the Issue
Sierra Leone is an African country which is characterized by the lowest economic and social development. It is located in West Africa, has an access to the Atlantic Ocean and borders with Guinea and Liberia, which have tight economic and social situation too. Therefore, the whole region might be characterized as having problems in the sphere of social care.
Turning to Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization (WHO) indicates that the state has increasingly high population movement across its borders (World Health Organization [WHO], 2008). Moreover, the selected region is well-known for its military conflicts, which have seriously deteriorated the economic potential of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea. As a result, these countries are characterized by insecurity and civil strife (WHO, 2008). In addition, the Human Poverty Index of the countryis 51.5, and it is ranked 177 among 177 countries being the least developed economy on the globe (WHO, 2008).
Not surprisingly, the country has weak health profile because the economic problems prevent it from developing the areas of medical care and health security. The factors which worsen the given state of affairs are a high level of illiteracy, pervasive poverty, limited access to fresh water, poor diet, and terrible hygiene and sanitation (WHO, 2008). Additionally, the issues which aggravate the situation are overcrowding, limited access to health care services and various regional diseases. For example, one of the gravest diseases of the region is malaria, with 25% mortality among children. They also suffer from the acute respiratory infections, diarrhea, and HIV/AIDS (WHO, 2008). Moreover, the local population has a problem of drug abuse which stimulates such diseases as diabetes and hypertension and different mental illnesses. The country has mostly rural areas, which means that there is very small quantity of qualified medical centers. The government attempts to reform the health care sector, but the economic insufficiency leads to the fact that it depends on financing from the developed countries. Consequently, the health care sector is characterized by inadequate funding. The situation is also aggravated by the lack of medical specialists.
All the above mentioned facts lead to the conclusion that as a result of the burden of economic and social problems, the children are the least protected social category in Sierra Leone. For instance, IRIN reports that “Child mortality in this country is the worst in the world at 270 deaths per 100,000 children born” (“Sierra Leone,” 2008). One of the reasons of such a situation is the poor provision of the prenatal care. Additionally, the most common problems that add to the children’s deaths are dehydration, lack of vitamins and vaccines, malnutrition and lack of access to the first aid services.
Scholars claim that even simple methods such as regular immunization, vitamin A supplements, and re-hydration of children with diarrhea (“Sierra Leone,” 2008). Moreover, rresearchers indicate that bed net usage would also have a positive effect protecting the child from mosquitoes (Ranasinghe et al., 2015). At the same time, the country requires correcting its cultural practices because of their harmful effect on children. The examples of them are the lack of breastfeeding and substitution of it with water, early and underage marriages, female genital mutilation/cutting, and child labor (“Sierra Leone,” 2008). Consequently, the international community is shocked with the realities of Sierra Leone and attempts to assist the country with humanitarian aid. Thus, UNICEF Executive Director, Ann Veneman, stated that “The loss of 9.7 million young lives each year is unacceptable, especially when many of these deaths are preventable” (“U.N.,” 2008). In general, it is evident that the whole sub-Saharan region of Africa requires assistance due to the fact that it incorporates the poorest countries of the world.
Alongside with the humanitarian aid, countries of the world propose various solutions to resolve the issue. Due to the fact that the civil war of 1991-2002 prevented the government’s efforts to decrease the children’s mortality, the state relies heavily on exterior assistance. For instance, the UN claimed that it aimed at reducing the 1990 rate by two-thirds before 2015 (“U.N.,” 2008). Unfortunately, this goal has not been reached, which requires additional efforts. In this respect, it is suggested that Sierra Leone has to follow the example of Mozambique, which has achieved 41% drop of child mortality (“U.N.,” 2008). Such a result has been possible because of the establishment of medical aid training institutions, which has raised the level of medical awareness of the citizens. Additionally, community health service educators assisted people in applying correct health care practices towards children. Consequently, one suggests that the world’s countries should not provide direct financial assistance to Sierra Leone. Instead, they should develop health care services and institutions locally. Therefore, the spread of the practices implemented by Mozambique would significantly decrease the level of child mortality and enhance the overall level of medical care.
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