Child death in Honduras is becoming a significant problem as a combination of factors is creating a crisis of poverty in the country. With the Central American country already being one of the poorest in Latin America as well as having the second-highest poverty rate in the LAC according to the World Bank data in 2020, the children of the country experience the brunt of this poverty. The most significant impact this rising poverty rate has had is pneumonia which has grown due to malnutrition, lack of safe water and sanitation and health care.
Poverty in Honduras: An Overview
- Poverty in Honduras has been a concern for a long time. Before 2020, 25.2% of the country lived in extreme poverty and according to the World Bank, 4.4 million people lived in poverty. Since 2014, there has been very little decline in poverty levels as well.
- When it comes to human development as well, Honduras has performed very poorly and has the lowest human development outcomes in Latin America. Children in particular suffer from child malnutrition as a result of this. According to the World Food Programme (WFP), 23% of children under 5 experience stunting and anemia affects 29%.
- The reasons for Honduras’ struggle with poverty have roots in economic, political and environmental factors. The climate makes food insecurity in the region much worse, with extreme droughts in Honduras’ Dry Corridor and irregular rainfalls that resulted in the loss of more than half of the crops in 2015. Moreover, 72% of the country relies on agriculture which makes matters worse.
Rising Cases of Pneumonia
The worsening poverty rates and resulting poor nutrition have resulted in an increase in child mortality rates in Honduras. One of the leading causes of child death in Honduras is pneumonia, which according to UNICEF is 16% of deaths of children under 5 years of age in 2019. The cause of the rising cases of pneumonia is the amount of malnutrition rising in the population due to the poverty crisis. With malnutrition comes a lack of safe drinking water, lack of sanitation and poor healthcare systems. Some parts of the country, such as the south region, are mountainous areas where finding safe drinking water is difficult and jobs are lacking.
These levels could rise as famine will likely hit the dry corridor of Honduras as well as Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica. In an interview with The Guardian, Ramón Turcios, the southern regional director for the Ministry of Agriculture, places the blame for this rising poverty on the government’s lack of response to the droughts. Although The Guardian reported that the World Food Programme (WFP) is providing supplementary nutrition to children in the Vado Ancho region, many doctors and healthcare providers are concerned about the future. “I’m scared that, as a result of the drought, the situation will get worse and there will be more cases of pneumonia, especially in children under five,” said a doctor at a local health center in an interview with The Guardian.
Hope For the Future
While the future looks bleak, there is hope that Honduras might be able to tackle this crisis and help millions of children. The World Bank currently has 11 projects in Honduras that it has committed $814 million. These commitments aim to address sanitation, health care and food security. The World Bank has pledged $70 million to specifically provide water to the Dry Corridor. It is also working on a new Country Partnership Framework with Honduras as of April 2022. Honduras also partnered with UNDP in 2019 to tackle child malnutrition specifically. Although there are fears for the future, many international organizations are working with Honduras to abate the number of pneumonia cases and reduce child death in Honduras.
– Umaima Munir