Thursday, April 07, 2005

Drop in the bucket...

Today I went to a National Symposium for World Health Day. The theme was “Make every mother and child count”. Women and children make up a big part of the society, yet they are the ones most vulnerable. Although it was good to go to the symposium and hear first hand what the health care problems in Sierra Leone are, it was also a little discouraging.

Here are the facts…
More than 10 million children die in the developing world per year. 4 million of these children die within 28 days of birth. Sierra Leone has the worst indicators, ranking as number one in the world. In Sierra Leone the child mortality rate is 286/1000 live births per year (compared to about 5/1000 in Holland). This means that almost 3 out of 10 children die before their 5th birthday! 70% of these children die due to diarrhea, pneumonia, malaria, malnutrition and measles; all could be prevented! The maternal mortality rate is 1800/100000 live births. In other words, a woman has a 1 in 16 life time risk of dying due to childbirth complications. (compared to about 1 in 3500 in Holland). As you can imagine, this is difficult to tackle.

It was fairly easy for everyone to address the issues underlying poor maternal and child health- poverty, lack of transport, cost of health care, cultural aspects, lack of safe water and sanitation etc. However, it was impossible for anyone to come up with a concrete plan. Yes, you can try to provide mosquito nets for all children and pregnant women- but where will you get the nets, how will you distribute them, who will reimpregnate them? No one here has the money to do that. Now there are better drugs to treat malaria (less resistance) but these are expensive- who can afford them? What about increasing access to health care facilities (better roads, more vehicles) so that a patient will reach the facility before it’s too late? But what happens when the patient arrives at the hospital? There is a shortage of trained & skilled staff, there are limited supplies, and the patient usually can’t pay the fees charged! The problem seems too big to tackle.

Although I know that my work here will be very limited in scope, I do want to be optimistic. Instead of looking at the millions of people that I can’t help, I want to focus on the individuals that I can have an impact on. I hope that during my time here I can make a difference in the lives of some of the Sierra Leoneans in our area. Sometimes it is the drop in the bucket that counts!!!


Anonymous said...

Al die cijfers klinken behoorlijk ontmoedigend, ik vind het knap dat je optimistisch kunt blijven. Anderzijds, als je dat niet zou zijn, werd het erg moeilijk vol te houden waarschijnlijk. Als ik ze verhalen lees, krijg ik wel weer de kriebels moet ik zeggen, om er ook op uit te trekken. Erg leuke site trouwens, kun je die gewoon zelf maken?

Liefs Marieke

Anne-Ruth said...

Lieve Sanne,
Ik wilde gewoon even laten weten dat we aan je denken.

Mariska said...

Een druppel...lijkt op eerste zicht niets, maar daarmee begint wel de regenbui. En in een bui wordt alles nat!! Dus onderschat het belang van een enkele druppel nooit!! Alle beetjes helpen!
Sterkte met het werk en de uitdagingen die op je af komen.

Helen Mast said...


Wow! Those facts about Sierra Leone tell a lot! And I know you aren't telling the half of it.

Keep up the good work and keep seeking God for wisdom and strength as you do each day what He gives you to do. Obeying God is success!!

Love in Christ,

~ Act Justly. Love Mercy. Walk Humbly. micah 6:8 ~