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How Life for African Mothers (LFAM) is Helping in LiberiaMaternal mortality rates in Liberia exceed regional averages, significantly impacting infant survival. Yet, recent years have seen a decline in these rates, from an average of 777 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 2000 to 652 births in 2020. An initiative like Life for African Mothers (LFAM) is helping Liberia contribute to this positive trend by providing crucial support for mothers in the country.

Challenges for Midwives

Midwives in Sub-Saharan Africa face severe challenges due to outdated equipment, lack of training and insufficient drugs. They struggle without the necessary tools and knowledge to save mothers’ lives during pregnancy and childbirth complications. This is where the vital support of nongovernmental organizations like LFAM becomes crucial in reducing maternal mortality rates and impacting the lives of both midwives and mothers positively.

Life for African Mothers

Since 2005, LFAM, a United Kingdom (U.K.)-based nongovernmental health organization, has been saving the lives of mothers and babies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Angela Gorman, a neonatal nurse, founded LFAM to address the region’s high maternal mortality rates. LFAM achieves its mission through various means, including distributing medication to prevent post-partum hemorrhage and conducting skill-sharing workshops to provide essential training to hundreds of midwives.

In 2007, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) partnered with LFAM to support Liberia in reducing its high maternal mortality rate. Since then, LFAM has actively collaborated with four hospitals in Liberia, conducting clinical skills-sharing workshops and distributing medication to address the critical situation.

LFAM’s Impact on Liberian Communities

LFAM is helping in Liberia by training midwives and distributing maternal medication across multiple counties in Liberia. Furthermore, it has enhanced maternal health in Liberia by distributing more than $250,000 worth of medication at no cost. LFAM stands as the exclusive provider in Liberia of Misoprostol, a drug to prevent hemorrhaging. Pharmaceutical companies in the U.K. donate much of the medication with the stipulation that it be distributed free of charge.

Furthermore, LFAM collaborates with charities like IHP and Muntada Aid to secure medicine donations and finance midwifery trips. By supplying medications for childbirth complications, LFAM supports hospitals and health centers across Liberia, significantly reducing maternal mortality rates. Additionally, LFAM distributes infant clothing to underprivileged mothers. As of January 2023, it was noted that since 2016, LFAM has trained more than 500 traditional and medical midwives throughout Liberia.

LFAM facilitates visits to Liberia by clinical staff to share clinical experiences and provide additional resources to hospitals and communities. Overall LFAM is helping in Liberia, making significant contributions to maternal health care and helping lower the maternal mortality rate.

Looking Forward

The remarkable efforts of LFAM in Liberia are paving the way for a future where maternal mortality is not a foregone conclusion but a challenge to overcome. Through training midwives, distributing essential medications and fostering international partnerships, LFAM is crafting a legacy of improved health care for mothers and their infants. Moreover, this trajectory of progress promises not only healthier futures for families in Liberia but also serves as a beacon of hope for similar communities across Sub-Saharan Africa.

– Arabella Wood-Collins
Photo: Unsplash

Mental Health in LiberiaThe world’s outlook on mental health is gradually improving, but there are still many parts of global society that turn a blind eye to disorders of the mind. Liberian institutions often ignore mental health in Liberia. Times change, however and if Liberia is indicative of the rest of the world, mental health is getting the attention it desperately needs.

In 2016, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimated that one out of five of Liberia’s population experienced a mental disorder. Subsequent research by WHO indicates an improvement in Liberia’s mental health, with a notable increase in the mental health workforce. Initially, only one psychiatrist served the country, but as of 2020, Liberia has more than 450 mental health professionals, including four psychiatrists, two psychologists and more than 400 mental health nurses. That said, here are some organizations fighting mental health in Liberia.

LiCORMH

The Liberia Center for Outcome Research on Mental Health’s (LiCORMH) health initiatives target unique, often ignored, areas of mental health in Liberia. For instance, LiCORMH now situates sexual abuse under a “fallout of war,” raising attention to the issue as connected to disorders like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Many of the citizens reaching adulthood today are survivors of a civil war in the country that began when they were children. A study showed that 50% of Liberians are coping with PTSD. The country’s growing dedication to mental health helps these survivors deal with their PTSD.

The Carter Center

The Carter Center, as indicated by its motto prominently displayed on the front page of its website — “Waging Peace, Fighting Disease, Building Hope” — grapples with the challenge of realizing this mission in Liberia’s fight against mental afflictions. The organization has trained an army of public health workers in mental health care, ranging everywhere from crisis intervention to diagnoses of mental health afflictions. Additionally, The Carter Center has played a crucial role in community education on mental health, empowering individuals with tools for self-help. Furthermore, the organization focuses on training health workers in self-care.

John F. Kennedy Medical Health Center

Located in the capital city, Monrovia, boasting 50 years of experience, 1000 employees and 57,000 patients a year, the JFK Medical Health Center is Liberia’s “largest referral hospital.” The E.S Grant Mental Health Hospital, a part of the JFK Medical Health Center, is the only hospital combatting mental health in Liberia. It has enough room to care for 80 patients and the workforce to offer outpatient advice to those suffering from mental health concerns.

Child Resource Institute

Tackling mental health is a lofty goal and its aims and strategies must have broad reach and circumspect plans. The Child Resource Institute connects women and children to programs that enable them to become self-sufficient and proactive members of their societies. Despite its economic goals, the institute’s actions affect mental health, too. It builds pathways for Liberian citizens toward brighter futures.

Final Remark

The struggle is far from over, but support for mental health in Liberia will guarantee that the country continues to move in the right direction and that every citizen receives the care they deserve.

– Antonio Muhs
Photo: Flickr

Period Poverty in LiberiaPeriod poverty is a pressing concern in Liberia, with significant numbers of women and girls lacking access to affordable menstrual hygiene products. The United Nations (U.N.) found in 2019 that approximately 30% of Liberian girls and women cannot consistently afford menstrual pads or tampons. Inadequate sanitation facilities compound the issue, leaving many without the means to manage their menstruation hygienically. As a result, girls often miss school due to the unavailability of proper menstrual products and facilities, impacting their educational opportunities. The cultural stigma surrounding menstruation further exacerbates the problem, perpetuating a lack of awareness and open discussion on this critical issue.

Period Struggles and Poverty

Period poverty in Liberia is intricately linked to the issue of widespread poverty, with a significant portion of the population unable to afford menstrual hygiene products. UNICEF found that approximately 64% of Liberians live below the national poverty line. The financial burden of purchasing menstrual supplies exacerbates the economic challenges that women and girls in the country face. Furthermore, missed school or work days due to period-related issues directly impact their educational and income-generating opportunities, reinforcing the cycle of poverty. In addition, the lack of proper sanitation facilities further compounds the problem of period poverty in Liberia, affecting the overall health and dignity of women and girls.

Legal Reforms

Liberia is taking optimistic strides to address period poverty through specific legal reforms. Recently, the Liberian government eliminated import taxes on menstrual hygiene products, making them more affordable and accessible. The Ministry of Education has also introduced policies aimed at ensuring schools provide adequate sanitation facilities and promote menstrual hygiene education. These reforms are part of broader gender equality initiatives in Liberia, emphasizing the importance of menstrual health and dignity. By enacting these legal changes, the government aims to reduce the financial burden on women and girls and improve overall well-being.

Days for Girls Liberia

Days For Girls Liberia is an organization dedicated to tackling period poverty in Liberia with optimism. This organization is actively working to provide reusable menstrual hygiene kits and menstrual health education to underserved communities. By distributing these kits, Days for Girls Liberia empowers women and girls to manage their periods hygienically and with dignity. Moreover, the organization conducts workshops to raise awareness about menstrual health and break down the societal stigmas surrounding menstruation. The organization’s tireless efforts are contributing to improved menstrual health and overall well-being for Liberian women and girls.

Dr. Maymunah Kadree and Girls Empowerment Initiative Liberia

Dr. Maymunah Kadree, the founder of Girls Empowerment Initiative Liberia, is a driving force in the fight against period poverty in Liberia. Through her organization, Dr. Kadree has been providing menstrual hygiene education and distributing reusable menstrual products to girls in underserved communities. She hopes to empower girls to manage their periods confidently and continue their education without interruption through her efforts. Dr. Kadree’s work also aims to break down cultural taboos surrounding menstruation, promoting open dialogue and awareness about menstrual health. Her dedication and optimism have made a significant impact on improving the lives of young girls by addressing period poverty in Liberia.

– Nathaniel George
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in LiberiaLiberia is located along the western coast of Africa’s rough and diverse terrain. The country experienced peace and stability until 1989 when a rebellion ensued. The Civil War in Liberia then persisted until 2003. As a result, high poverty rates and unstable living conditions became too common in Liberia.

Living Conditions in Liberia

According to the World Bank, approximately 54% of Liberia’s population lived below the poverty line in 2014. More than 2.1 million Liberians were unable to obtain basic necessities between January and August 2014. Today, 20% of the population lives in extreme poverty.

The number of those living in extreme poverty within urban and rural areas is the same, which is unusual. According to the report, the primary reason why urban areas have such high levels of poverty is that homeowners are unable to afford basic necessities such as food and electricity.

Furthermore, Liberia faces disheartening statistics common in impoverished countries. The nation has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, along with many children at risk of death from preventable illnesses like malaria.  Life expectancy, education and income are ranked extremely low on a worldwide scale. The nation also has the world’s third-highest unemployment rate.

ChildFund

The ChildFund organization is one working to help improve living conditions in Liberia. Through the support of donors, the organization distributed mosquito nets to more than 477,000 people across the nation. Years of war forced children to forfeit education and serve Liberia. However, ChildFund offers these former child soldiers educational opportunities. The Community Education and Investment Project aims to provide children the opportunity to enroll in schools. Thus far, ChildFund has supplied more than 75,000 books to 110 schools across Liberia.

ChildFund works to empower Liberians and provide them with resources to rebuild their lives. The organization has constructed early childhood development centers, community healthcare facilities and centers for women. Though living conditions in Liberia are less than favorable, ChildFund’s efforts are making a substantial difference.

Liberian Agriculture Project

According to the World Bank’s Country Economist Daniel K. Boakye, improving agriculture will help bring Liberia out of poverty. Increased food growth and therefore increased sales will stimulate the rural communities while providing urban areas with much-needed agricultural products. One organization tackling agriculture in Liberia is the Liberian Agriculture Project.

The Liberian Agriculture Project works to support small-scale farmers of fruit crops such as pineapples and bananas in Liberia. The organization is involved in the growing and handling of sales for rural farmers. Currently, the project is working toward getting specialty products into the seven main food markets in the capital of Monrovia, Liberia. Additionally, making the transition from subsistence farming to commercialized agriculture is another goal.

Although the Civil War ended years ago, living conditions in Liberia continue to be affected by ongoing conflict and tensions. The stress of high unemployment rates, food shortages and limited access to healthcare still affect the average Liberian family. However, efforts put forth by nonprofit organizations and charities like ChildFund and the Liberian Agricultural Project are taking the right steps to help bring Liberia out of poverty.

– Aditya Daita
Photo: Flickr

Infant Mortality and Chlorhexidine in Liberia When applied to the umbilical cord and stump, the antiseptic chlorhexidine has been shown to reduce neonatal deaths by preventing infection. Liberia, which has high rates of infant mortality, has included chlorhexidine in its national health policy. As health is closely linked to poverty, this is an important measure in improving both the health and prosperity of Liberians. Chlorhexidine and infant mortality in Liberia represent a global health success story.  

Liberia and Public Health: A Brief Background 

Liberia is a country in western Africa with a population of around five million and a per capita income of $710. The country faces a variety of public health crises. For instance, life expectancy in Liberia is 64 years for women and 62 years for men, and the infant mortality rate was 50 per 1,000 live births as of 2018. Neonatal disorders are the third most common cause of death, exceeded only by malaria and diarrheal diseases, which also commonly affect infants and young children.

Chlorhexidine

Around the world, 21% of neonatal deaths are caused by severe bacterial infection. This amounts to over 500,000 neonatal deaths annually. Fortunately, simple and affordable interventions can greatly reduce the occurrence of neonatal infection. Chlorhexidine is a prime example. It is an affordable antiseptic that is easy to manufacture and use. Hospitals often use chlorhexidine as a preoperative skin disinfectant, as well as for sterilizing surgical instruments.

When chlorhexidine is applied to the umbilical cord stumps of newborns, it can prevent infection and the complications of infection. Studies demonstrate that using chlorhexidine on newborns can decrease the risk of severe infection by 68% and can decrease the risk of neonatal mortality by 23%. Chlorhexidine is now used in neonates in several countries around the world, including the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi, Madagascar, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh.

Using Chlorhexidine in Liberia

In Liberia, the newborn mortality rate was 26 per 1,000 live births in 2013. Neonatal deaths accounted for 35% of deaths of children under the age of five, and severe infections were the cause of 28% of neonatal deaths. To address this problem, Liberia adopted a chlorhexidine policy in 2013 requiring the application of chlorhexidine. The Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare stated, “Henceforth 7.1% chlorhexidine digluconate (4% free chlorhexidine) will be applied to the tip of the [umbilical] cord, the stump and around the base of the stump cord of all babies delivered in Liberia immediately after cutting the cord as with repeat application once daily until the cord separates.” The policy follows WHO guidelines for infants born in areas of high neonatal mortality. Chlorhexidine was also added to Liberia’s essential medicines list.

Liberia has benefitted from the support of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) Maternal and Child Survival Program and NGO partners like Save the Children. These organizations have helped Liberian healthcare to implement chlorhexidine use, train health workers and ensure supply and intake. The policy reduced infant mortality in Liberia by 2.2% annually.

The Ministry of Health and various organizations have made important strides in reducing the rates of infant mortality in Liberia. Using chlorhexidine in Liberia is a powerful example of how simple interventions can effectively improve health, save lives and help to end poverty. 

 

– Isabelle Breier

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in LiberiaSeveral reasons are behind the causes of poverty in Liberia. The country has dealt with a 14-year civil war, and even after slightly recovering, it is still in a vulnerable state.

What are the causes of poverty in Liberia? The main reasons are corruption and government conflict. Corruption in the government is the major epidemic, infiltrating many of the other sectors of society. According to Transparency International, low public sector salaries and a lack of decent training create the incentive for corruption.

The country also fails to utilize its natural resources in a productive way. The country is rich with mineral wealth including iron ore, timber, diamonds, rubber and gold; however, natural resource management continues to deal with corruption and governance issues. If natural resource management can remain uncorrupted, the country can use these minerals as a way to bring in legitimate funding.

Another of the causes of poverty in Liberia is that during the wars, more than 200,000 people lost their lives. Many Liberian children were forced to fight in these wars, and have had few opportunities to adjust back to a normal civilian life. This then results in them turning to crime and a life of poverty.

An estimated 64 percent of Liberians live below the poverty line and 1.3 million live in extreme poverty, out of a population of 4.6 million, according to World Food Programme. The country depends on imports, which does not help with its agricultural markets already being integrated poorly. There is inadequate rural road infrastructures, limited smallholder participation in value chains and restrained institutional capacity of farmers’ organizations. Food security is also affecting 41 percent of the population, making chronic malnutrition high.

Liberia, however, is beginning to benefit from the work of some organizations like Mercycorps, which is bringing aid to those in poverty. It is providing water, food and teaching locals how to provide for themselves in a developing economy. It is also helping to fix Liberia’s market gaps as well as helping its economy recover. Additionally, there are organizations helping children find better lives after being soldiers.

Liberia is slowly on track to overcome poverty but ultimately needs more help. With financial assistance from other countries including the U.S and stopping the corruption, Liberia can emerge from poverty.

Chavez Spicer

Photo: Flickr

Common Diseases in LiberiaAs one of the poorest countries in the world, Liberia has struggled to develop adequate healthcare infrastructure to combat the spread of disease. Many diseases in Liberia can be traced to poor hygiene, sanitation and water quality, allowing diseases such as tuberculosis, malaria and cholera to affect the population.

Despite economic barriers, Liberia has made progress in certain areas, such as combatting the spread of HIV/AIDS through government programs and improved conditions.

Some of the most common diseases in Liberia include pneumonia, acute respiratory diseases and diarrheal diseases, all of which have high mortality rates. Many respiratory diseases can be linked to poor indoor air quality in rural areas where coal is often burned with poor ventilation.

Another health concern due to poor living conditions is the prevalence of cholera and parasitic disease outbreaks, which are connected to contaminated water and lack of proper sanitation. Over half of Liberian households do not use any toilet facility, and only 10 percent of households use an improved, unshared toilet facility.

Malaria is one of the most common illnesses throughout West Africa, and Liberia is no exception. Malaria accounts for 38 percent of all outpatient visits — the most out of any disease. After peaking in 2011, confirmed Malaria cases per 1000 have declined drastically to 220 cases per 1000 all thanks to preventative efforts and increased awareness.

In the spring of 2017, Liberia experienced a “mystery outbreak” along with several other West African countries. After extensive testing on autopsies, the outbreak was classified as meningitis, which caught scientists off guard due to the introduction of a meningitis vaccine throughout West Africa in 2010.

This outbreak, however, is presumed to be a meningitis C strain, which required different antibiotics to treat. In all, Liberia’s quick response and containment of the outbreak has demonstrated the country’s health improvements since the first cases of Ebola in 2014.

In the last decade, Liberia has made a concentrated effort at curbing the spread of diseases such as HIV. Recently, the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare and its partners have increased the number of HIV counseling and testing centers, and helped increase the number of sites providing prevention of mother-to-child transmission services from 29 in 2008 to 230 in 2011.

While the prevalence of the disease remains relatively high at 1.9 percent for adults ages 15-49, the Liberian government has put infrastructure in place to bring this number down in the near future.

While poverty and poor living conditions continue to facilitate the spread of diseases in Liberia, recent efforts have reduced the threat of Malaria and HIV. Continued improvements to water quality, living conditions and health care access are necessary for Liberia to solve future questions regarding disease.

Nicholas Dugan

Help People in LiberiaApproximately 64 percent of Liberians live below the poverty line. Liberia is ranked at 182 out of 187 in the human development index. This poverty is caused by lack of sufficient farming methods, little to no access to healthcare and lack of political power. Here are some solutions for how to help people in Liberia.

How to help people in Liberia starts with the food insecurity rate. Chronic malnutrition is high, 41 percent of Liberians are considered food-insecure. Farmers that can barely support their own families are common in Liberia, this has led to more than one-third of the population being malnourished. More effective measures of farming need to be put in place to help people in Liberia.

The country has plentiful rainfall and good soil, yet it is not being used effectively. The government of Liberia has granted large plots of land to multinational companies for rubber, timber and palm oil. This has reduced opportunities for farmers to produce large amounts of food at a rapid pace. Agricultural reform needs to be made in order to fix the measures of farming and the allocation of land.

More than 75 percent of the population has little to no access to referral care services. The health care system in Liberia is heavily dependent on aid from outside resources. USAID funded Rebuilding Basic Health Services (RBHS), and since 2008, RBHS has been working closely with the Liberian Ministry of Health and Social Welfare to rebuild the health system in Liberia.

Training organized groups and volunteers, investing in basic infrastructure, and supporting the prosperity of the health system are crucial. Interventions must be put in place to develop a line of communication with village chiefs, community health committee members and political representatives. A multi-faceted approach is necessary when addressing the health system in Liberia.

Poor conditions Liberia can be traced back to the military coup in 1980. An absence of political stability in any country causes conflict and poor conditions. In Liberia’s case, being unable to change economic conditions through political activism condemns the poor to stay poor. Lack of opportunity alone does not cause poverty, it is also a lack of political power to change the systems and practices that cause impoverishment.

How to help people in Liberia starts with knowledge and action, both being essential factors. Influencing public policy, financial contributions and working directly with the poor are all impactful. Even though Liberia has not had a prosperous history, there are many successful programs that are encouraging future growth for this West African country.

Lucy Voegeli

Photo: Flickr

peope10 Facts About Refugees in Liberia
Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, Liberia is a country located on the continent of Africa and has a population roughly of 4 million people. Liberia is home to thousands of refugees, many of whom originate from Cote d’Ivoire (also known as the Ivory Coast), a country just east of Liberia. Here are 10 facts about refugees in Liberia.

10 Facts About Refugees in Liberia

  1. There are currently over 40,000 persons of concern in Liberia. From this total, 38,000 refugees originate from Cote d’Ivoire. This means that Ivorian refugees in Liberia make up 95 percent of the total refugee population.
  2. Ivorian refugees often flee to Liberia due to civil conflict in their country of origin. Populations in the Ivory Coast are constantly clashing with a rebellion which began shortly after the turn of the 21st century. Since then, there has been a great deal of unrest in the Ivory Coast, forcing many people out of the country. Liberia became a destination for many of the Ivorian asylum-seekers.
  3. A large majority of Ivorian refugees in Liberia live in refugee camps established by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
  4. With the sudden surge of persons of concern, Liberia has requested $34 million in foreign aid. Liberia has only been granted 28 percent of the requested funds.
  5. It is suspected that the reason Liberia is receiving less funding for its refugees is due to the Middle East’s own refugee crisis. People seeking refuge from the Middle East are more likely to gain the attention of nonprofits and global organizations than the Ivorian refugees in Liberia.
  6. In 2016, an Ebola outbreak occurred in Liberia which resulted in thousands of deaths. According to the UNHCR, refugees in Liberia were impacted the most by the outbreak.
  7. Even though it has been over a decade since the war in Cote d’Ivoire, many of the refugees in Liberia feel they cannot return to their country of origin. Instead, many people fleeing from their home countries choose to settle in refugee camps in Liberia.
  8. In 2016, Ivorian authorities, alongside the UNHCR, called for all Ivorian refugees to return home to Cote d’Ivoire. Mariatou Kone, the Ivorian Minister of Solidarity, Social Cohesion and Compensation, stated that Ivorians have conducted two elections without any problems since the election, pleading for the country’s citizens to return home.
  9. Refugee camps in Liberia were never intended or designed to be long-term settlements. As a result, food rations, educational opportunities and medical care are becoming difficult to obtain for people seeking refuge in Liberia.
  10. The majority of people seeking refuge in Liberia are women and children. As a result, UNICEF is working closely in order to ensure proper medical care and child protection for these refugees. For example, in 2012 UNICEF helped more than 20,200 Ivorian and Liberian children through child-friendly education and healthcare programs.

 

The refugee crisis is putting a lot of financial pressure on Liberia. It is absolutely crucial that conditions improve for refugees in Liberia in the near future.

Morgan Leahy

Photo: Flickr


For more than  a decade, the water quality in Liberia has been a steady issue. In 2016, only 25 percent of the population had access to clean water. Currently, of the 4.5 million people populating the country, more than one million are unable to access safe drinking water.

According to World Bank, the water quality in Liberia has been an issue ever since the country’s second civil war ended in 2003. For nearly 14 years, numerous Liberian citizens have been in vital need of access to clean water, but have failed to receive the assistance necessary to remedy the situation.

Unfortunately, many individuals living in Liberia have suffered from prevalent health issues due to the unsafe water conditions. In addition, many citizens are being forced to pay extra expenses daily so that they can buy clean water rather than rely on contaminated wells. In an article by FrontPageAfrica (FPA), a concerned citizen complained about the crippling effect of financial expenditures that she has been forced to make in order to buy clean water to do her laundry.

Research by WaterAid, an international charity dedicated to the access of clean water, shows that fewer than 20 percent of Liberians have access to sanitary toilets and more than 500 Liberian children die each year from diarrhea caused by unsanitary conditions. Additionally, 3.5 million people within the country have inadequate access to proper sanitation.

Chuchu Kordor Selma, WaterAid’s team leader in Liberia, voiced her concern over this growing issue by inferring that the number one most important way to satisfactorily address the quality of water in Liberia is by sufficiently investing in the government sector. Furthermore, WaterAid has been steadily working throughout the last year to produce increased access to clean water and proper sanitary conditions within the country. Due to the organization’s unfailing persistence, more than 12,000 Liberians have been provided with safe water and more than 10,000 have been provided with improved sanitary conditions.

Lael Pierce

Photo: Flickr