Health & Nutrition
Every year, insufficient access to healthcare causes 6.6 million children to die from treatable illnesses like diarrhoea, malaria and pneumonia before the age of five*. Although this is an improvement from over 10 million fatalities in 2006, more needs to be done.
Mothers and infants are particularly vulnerable to the detrimental health effects of complications that can arise during pregnancy or childbirth, as well as malnutrition. These challenges are aggravated by limited access to hospitals and health professionals. Many mothers choose to give birth at home rather than walk hours to the nearest health post.
Miheret is 13 years old and fetches water for her family from the dirty pond near her home. Her father related that as a result of no access to clean water, Miheret once swallowed a big worm when drinking water from the pond.
The worm stopped in the middle of her throat as she choked. Together with a lack of healthcare knowledge, the family tried to feed the girl strong alcohol to kill the worm. However, the girl remained ill, until professional medical care arrived, at the referral of World Vision.
Polluted water contributes to malnutrition in children
Insufficient Healthcare Facilities
Rural health posts are shared among a number of villages, which means that those who are ill have to walk hours across difficult terrain to access healthcare. These health centres are poorly maintained and lack proper medical equipment to treat illnesses.
Health workers in the community lack proper training and, as a consequence, have limited knowledge on how to treat even basic illnesses. Some families may also resort to traditional healers, a choice which can cause more harm than good.
Limited Knowledge among Caregivers
Parents and primary caregivers are uneducated and unaware of the preventive measures, symptoms and cures for common childhood illnesses. Left untreated, these can become life-threatening. Mothers and mothers-to-be also lack knowledge on proper pre- and post-natal care.
Maternal health gets minimal attention simply because it concerns powerless and voiceless women. A staggering 99% of maternal deaths during childbirth occur in developing nations.* There are also many cases of early marriage, and young girls, whose bodies have not fully matured, are at high risk of health complications.
*World Health Organization, 2014