Liberian Children's Health At Risk

The Perspective

July 28, 2001

The state of health of Liberian children ranks among the worst in the world, says UN Report. This statement came as a result of a study released last Friday by the United Nations at the close of a three-day national symposium on improving Child Well-being.

The study, jointly conducted by the United Nations' Children Fund, the Liberian government and the Eminent Person's Group on Advocacy for Children, places Liberia among the 10 most underdeveloped countries in the world with an infant mortality rate of 134 per every 1,000 live births. The infant mortality rate in developed countries is around five to six per 1,000.

The study also reports that "Under-five mortality stands at 235 per every 1,000 live births."

The 142-page report further describes the state of health of Liberian children and their families as "depressing", with most of the population having no access to modern health services.

"Life expectancy for the average Liberian has fallen from 55 years in 1980 to 35 years today.

"Correspondingly, death rates have risen to 24 per every 1,000 from 16 per every 1,000."

On other health conditions, the report cites Malaria and acute respiratory infection as responsible for 35 percent of all diseases among children, with Diarrhea accounting for 22 percent.

"The leading causes of mortality in children are mainly preventable causes: neonatal tetanus (23 percent), acute respiratory infections (18 percent) and Malaria (15 percent)," the report said.

The report also warned that Liberia is on the brink of an AIDS epidemic, based on progressive trends in sexually transmitted diseases, tuberculosis and pelvic inflammatory disorder.

Until recently, the JFK Medical Center, the nation's primary health center was closed for almost a year to undergo renovation according to government. Last year, it was reported by the Ministry of Health that there were only 25 medical doctors in the entire country working in the public health sector, while the country suffered severe shortages among other health professionals such as, nurses, midwives, radiologist, among others.

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