The Republic of Sierra Leone has the worst rates of child and maternal mortality in the world. According to reports by IRIN, one in eight women die during pregnancy or child birth, compared to the global South’s average of one in 76 and the North’s one in 8000. If indeed these figures are accurate, the WHO needs to move in to avert the humanitarian catastrophe that is Sierra Leone. One in eight women dying during pregnancy or child-birth is medieval. Period. These numbers (even the 1 in 8000) should not exist in the 21st century. Child bearing should not be a death sentence to the women of the world.
The same report says that children in Sierra Leone have a more than 25% chance of not seeing their fifth birthday. Again, this is a shocking reality that should not exist anywhere in the world in the 21st century. Something needs to be done urgently to save the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Sierra Leoneans who are living on the edge, constantly threatened by malnutrition and a myriad illnesses, chief among them malaria.
The government of Sierra Leone needs to step in too. President Bai Koroma ought to realize that economic growth depends on a healthy, dynamic population. If the situation is not stemmed soon, Sierra Leone will sink even deeper into poverty. Already it is one of the poorest countries in the world with a per capita GDP of 800 dollars, according to the CIA factbook. Mr. Koroma should move urgently and constitute reforms to ensure that the country’s earnings from mineral exports are managed responsibly and channeled towards addressing this catastrophe.