Liberia has had a long relationship with poverty, with 50.9% of the population living below the national poverty line in 2016. This figure was predicted to increase in 2021 by The World Bank. Due to the heavy burden of poverty, many children deal with malnutrition. The civil war in Liberia during the 1990s, as well as the Ebola outbreak in 2014, have had significant impacts on overall life, including health care in Liberia.
Widespread poverty in Liberia has had far-reaching impacts on citizens’ lives. Apart from an inadequate health care infrastructure in Liberia, poverty also directly impacts the health of citizens in the form of malnutrition. The effects of malnutrition are far-reaching, especially for children. An estimated 32% of children younger than the age of 5 suffer stunting due to malnutrition.
Malnutrition also increases the risk of death and infections. Additionally, malnutrition can negatively affect a child’s brain function. The struggle stems from more than just a lack of food, but a lack of funds to afford foods with the proper nutrients. As of 2017, 69% of children under the age of 5 in Liberia are anemic.
Malnutrition has an adverse effect on economic efficiency, human capital and national development, according to USAID. Furthermore, the lack of resources such as clean water and proper sanitation increases the risk of stunting.
Partners in Rebuilding Health Care
The interconnectedness of the world means quick patterns of disease spread, which can lead to global health crises, as with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, impoverished countries, such as Liberia, have fragile health systems that are not well-equipped to properly manage such disease outbreaks.
Partners in Health (PIH) came to the country’s aid back in 2014 when the Ebola outbreak posed a massive threat to West Africans. Partners in Health continued to aid health care in Liberia, by strengthening the pre-existing health care facilities and infrastructure.
The organization’s aid has contributed to positive health impacts in Liberia. For instance, people dying from tuberculosis decreased from 15% to 0% after PIH support began in 2014. Also, mental health patients in Partners in Health supported facilities went up 30%. The organization has also helped train communities on health-promoting practices and provided training to health care professionals as well.
The world is more interconnected than ever, which means that countries are more able to help one another and collaborate to combat global poverty.
– Kelsey Jensen