War Hampers Child Survival In Liberia

By: Patrick K. Wrokpoh

The Inquirer
Monrovia, Liberia

Distributed by The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

April 22, 2003

Health Minister Dr. Peter Coleman has outlined a number of conditions which he said are hampering child survival in the country.

Minister Coleman said the ongoing armed insurrection coupled with the United Nations imposed sanction on the country are problems affecting the survival of the Liberian children.

He said unemployment of about 90% of the country's workforce and the high level of poverty are additional problems affecting child survival as well.

Minister Coleman made these comments last Thursday at a local hotel when the United Nations team in Liberia held a one-day Development Dialogue.

The dialogue which brought together stakeholders on the promotion, development and survival of child was held under the theme: Child Survival in Complex Situation-Opportunities and Challenges.

Addressing the audience on the above theme, Dr. Coleman who delivered the keynote statement at the occasion, said Liberia has become engulfed with a compound complex emergence situation for the last 13 years thus making child survival difficult.

He said Liberia has declined from a country with the highest per capita income in the sub-region to a country that is now ranked 174, according to the UNDP Human Development Index.

Minister Coleman said Liberia is a very impoverished nation with more than 80% of the population living below the poverty line.

According to Dr. Coleman, the imposition of sanctions disrupts the distribution of food, pharmaceutical products, shortage of resources, sanitation of supply among others.

He said all children especially those below five years, were at risk as a result of these conditions.

Minister Coleman added that as a result of armed conflict in the country, children were most likely to sustain serious injury or disability.

Quoting a recent study in Liberia conducted about five years ago, Dr. Coleman said 17% of Liberians are disabled. He said this was one of the highest disable rate in the world.

The Health Minister said from 1989 up to 1997, 80% of the nation’s health system was looted or destroyed, while for the last 3 years since the LURD insurrection, 65% of health facilities in 8 counties have been destroyed or abandoned. He said there is also the problem of the migration of health workers including doctors and nurses.

He emphasized that before the war in 1989, there were about 430 doctors in the country, but the figure has dropped to less than 80, due to the war.

Minister Coleman said all of these are adversely affecting the survival of the child in the country.

During the occasion, Phebe Hospital’s Medical Director, Dr. Emmanuel Sandoe and Don Bosco Homes Director Mr. Paul Najue also presented papers on child survival in complex situation.

The occasion was attended by representatives from the UN System among others.

© 2003: This article is copyrighted by The Inquirer newspaper (Monrovia, Liberia) and distributed by The Perspective (Atlanta, Georgia). All rights reserved.