Health in Liberia

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Liberia faces widespread health problems, including Ebola, endemic malaria, malnutrition, widespread mental health problems[1] and a low level of public health awareness.

Health infrastructure[edit]

Liberia has 5,000 full-time or part-time health workers and 51 Liberian doctors to cater to a population of 3.8 million, according to the 2006 health survey. That is equivalent to about 76,000 civilians being attended to by 1 doctor. Most of the hospitals, clinics and equipment were destroyed due to its 14 years of civil conflict from 1989 all the way until 2003.[2] The strengthening of the health sector faced financial problems. The government used only 16.8% of the total health expenditure in the country.[3]

Liberia has heavily relied on the international community for health infrastructure and aid. International relief organizations assisted the government to rebuild health facilities and provide essential health care for its citizens. The World Health Organization (WHO) donated equipment and helped provide and assist in vaccinating the population to prevent the spreading of many communicable disease.[4]

The Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) funded 160 million US dollars to improve the health care system and increase the quality of immunization services in Liberia.[5] Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international medical humanitarian organization, helped Liberia by operating free hospitals right after the civil war (2003) and treated more than 20,000 women and children per year.[6]

Health status[edit]

Ebola[edit]

The presence of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone as of 17 December 2014.[7]

As part of a wider regional Ebola outbreak in 2014, Liberia had suffered 1 779 deaths from Ebola as of September 22, 2014.[8] Ebola was first reported in Liberia in Lofa and Nimba counties in late March.[9]

EBOLA Plague[edit]

Ebola virus is an extremely contagious and severely fatal illness among humans. The disease is transmitted from animals to humans and then spread throughout populations due to human interaction. Research suggests that the Ebola epidemic started in Western Africa from a 2 year old boy who was the index case of the virus. He then gave it to his family who also died and then it started to spread to other villages. On the 30th of March in 2014 the first two cases of Ebola virus appeared in Liberia. Not even a month later there had already been 6 deaths related to Ebola recorded. The Ebola crisis in Liberia continued in 2015 only this time the disease had been narrowed down to only two of its countries Grand Cape Mount County and Montserrado County. The ELWA-3 treatment centre for Ebola in Liberia opened in August was so swamped with patients affected by the disease that some were even having to be turned away. There were several deaths and positive tests in Liberia until in September the WHO declared Liberia free of the virus. However in April 2016 it was reported that there was a fatality that tested positively to the Ebola virus and by the 4th of April 84 people were under observation after 2 confirmed cases in their region (Monrovia).

Mental Health[edit]

A considerable amount of the population suffers from mental illnesses or were mentally or physically traumatized, due to 14 years of intense civil conflict. A study by the American Medical Association (AMA) in 2008 had showed that a staggering 40% of adults had shown symptoms of major depressive disorders. 44% of adults also had symptoms of PTSD, or post-traumatic stress disorder.[10]

There was only one psychiatrist in the country at the time. It is impossible for 1 psychiatrist to be able to tend to over 1 million victims. In addition, E. S. Grant Mental Health Hospital was the only hospital for patients with mental illness. The hospital only had 80 beds, which left almost all those with traumatization unattended for.[11]

HIV AIDS prevalence in Liberia

HIV AIDS is one of the biggest diseases that has affected and is affecting Liberia to date.

At any given time 33,000 people are living with HIV in Liberia of which nearly 60% are female. This is a terrible statistic as due to Liberia's incapability to treat this disease only about 1.2% of those affected survives from the devastating disease. The youth in Liberia is one of the biggest contributes to the extensive post-conflict HIV AIDS problem. This is due to risky unprotected sex among adolescents without any form of contraception. A new social marketing condom program is being introduced to adolescents in vulnerable areas of the country in order to stop the spread of the disease and to minimize many preventable deaths throughout the country. In a 2012 study conducted by the African Health Sciences organisation over 20,400 condoms were provided to males and 316 to females in over 87 sites throughout Liberia. Communities were informed how to provide awareness of the dangers of HIV AIDS and how easily it can be prevented through the method of safe sex. Through the help of a health organisation called PSI in 2012 alone, through the use of contraception provided to the Liberian people, 4.7 million unintended pregnancies were stopped,13600 maternal deaths and provided 19 million couples protection.

Malnutrition and Dire starvation

Liberia is one of the most poverty-stricken countries in the world. The national human development organisation has stated that 75% of Liberia's people live of less than a dollar a day. There are many shocking facts related to Liberia's horrific lack of nutrition, such as 40% of children have unnatural stunted growth and 7% of Liberia's population from highly acute malnutrition. This high level of starvation and malnutrition is linked to a major lack of food and the high level of early teenager mothers who have absolutely no idea how to look after or treat their babies. The teenage mothers are usually single, sadly sometimes due to rape. These unprivileged teenage mothers are too embarrassed to even breastfeed their babies the nutrients they need to survive. They feel completely robbed of their freedom.[12] One of the most major contributors to a dire lack of food in Liberia is Ebola. Ebola is heavily attacking Liberia's food supply leaving 4.1 million people to try and survive the epidemic on their own accord, with many families or even kids on their own having to travel long distances to try access clean water or bags of wheat or flour for their families in order to even try survive. 85% of families in Liberia have been forced to eat fewer meals even as low as just one meal a day.

UNICEF and Non-Governmental Organizations, or NGOs, are working with the Ministry of Health to increase the awareness malnutrition, and make it a top priority of the country. Providing nutrition services is a major priority for the government, and it forms an important part of the National Health Policy. In 2008, the health ministry developed a nutrition policy, which became a good start from the service’s promise.[13] With this new policy, the health ministry aims to reduce the 39% chronic malnutrition rate by one-third by 2011, and fix one of the greatest issues of Liberia.

Water and Sanitation

After the thirteen year long civil-war populations in the slums of Liberia sky-rocketed. The people were left with little choice of where to obtain water or sanitation. To date Liberia still lives with horrible sanitation conditions, with up to 10 people sharing the same toilet without disinfectant and an extreme lack of clean consumable water. For every four people living in Liberia there is one living without access to any clean drinking water or substantial sanitation. Every five deaths that occurs in Liberia is due to people drinking contaminated drinking water. Due to extreme public defecation the World Health Organisation discovered that 58% of Liberia's water was contaminated with E coli. The E coli present in the water cause many illnesses such as diarrhea and vomiting throughout the population. The water crisis in Liberia has reached catastrophic levels. Action has been taken by a non-profit organisation called waves for water who are providing water filters for clean drinking water to over 60,000 people in Liberia's population.

Dengue Fever

Africa accounts for 16% of all dengue fever infections in the world. Dengue fever has very limited attention in Liberia. This is due to a lack of laboratory research. This leads to no diagnosis for the patients with the disease. This is critical as without early detection dengue fever can be fatal. It is Ades Mosquito that transmits four different types of fatal dengue fevers in Liberia.

See also[edit]

Referen[14] ces[15][16][17][18][19][20][21][edit]

  1. ^ "Association of combatant status and sexual violence with health and mental health outcomes in postconflict Liberia". The US government. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "History of the Conflict in Liberia". The U.S. State Department. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  3. ^ "Liberia". the U.S. Agency for International Development. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  4. ^ "Liberia". WHO. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  5. ^ "Liberia". GAVI. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  6. ^ "Liberia: MSF Hands Over Hospitals to Ministry of Health.". Doctors Without Borders. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  7. ^ "2014 Ebola Outbreak in West Africa - Outbreak Distribution Map". Cdc.gov. 6 September 2014. Retrieved 23 September 2014. 
  8. ^ Liberia: Liberia Ebola SitRep no. 130, 22 September 2014
  9. ^ "2 of 5 Test Positive for Ebola in Liberia", Liberian Observer, 31 March 2014, retrieved 6 July 2014 
  10. ^ "Association of combatant status and sexual violence with health and mental health outcomes in postconflict Liberia". The US government. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  11. ^ Ford, Tamasin (10 Oct 2012). "Liberia Slowly Coming to Terms with Civil War's Impact on Mental Health". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  12. ^ "Addressing severe malnutrition in Liberia" (PDF). Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  13. ^ "Humanitarian News and Analysis". IRINnews. Retrieved 15 May 2013. 
  14. ^ Harris, AO; Jubwe, S; *Kennedy, SB; Taylor, CH; Martin, RB; Bee, EM; Perry, OS; Massaquoi, MT; Woods, DV (2011-08-01). "Condom social marketing program to prevent HIV/AIDS in post-conflict Liberia". African Health Sciences 11 (Suppl 1): S77–S81. ISSN 1680-6905. PMC 3220129. PMID 22135649. 
  15. ^ "Liberia | UNAIDS". www.unaids.org. Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  16. ^ "World Population Day: Let's Talk about Sex in Liberia | PSI Impact | Global health news and commentary brought to you by PSI". psiimpact.com. Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  17. ^ "Ebola has killed thousands of Liberians — but it’s left thousands more hungry.". Washington Post. Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  18. ^ "Project Liberia". Waves For Water. Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  19. ^ "LIBERIA Water and Sanitation Profile" (PDF). USAID. Retrieved 2016-05-18. 
  20. ^ "Ebola-hit Liberia fears starvation as quarantine blocks food supplies". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  21. ^ "Dengue - WHO | Regional Office for Africa". www.afro.who.int. Retrieved 2016-05-17. 

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