Health Crises: Sierra Leone

Posted: May 13, 2013 in Sierra Leone

Another tremendous obstacle that Sierra Leone has placed in front of them is that of the health of the citizenry. With all my previous posts, I have been building to what is perhaps their most dire of circumstances regarding the Leonian community. Two diseases are currently affecting a significant portion of the population – Cholera and HIV/AIDS.

While the plight of HIV/AIDS victims in Africa has been well-documented and discussed among health professionals and governments, not enough is being done at the moment to help the victims of cholera.

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“Cholera is an acute intestinal infection caused by ingestion of food or water contaminated with the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. It has a short incubation period, from less than one day to five days, and produces an enterotoxin that causes a copious, painless, watery diarrhea that can quickly lead to severe dehydration and death if treatment is not promptly given. Vomiting also occurs in most patients.” (WHO)

0604FreetownPovertyThe spread of cholera is so rampant in Sierra Leone because of the existence of cramped, under-developed housing in the urban centers. These shantytowns exist without any kind of oversight or administration that can positively affect the lives of the people who live there. The even bigger issue is that these places lack any kind o plumbing or waste disposal system. So human waste is widespread and is can seep in the drinking water as well as infect open wounds that may occur.

Sadly, what kills many of these people is not the disease itself, but what it results in – which is dehydration. So little clean drinking water exists because of the infrastructural problems that resulted from the Civil War. Thus, people are unable to replace the fluids lost from their bodies through diarrhea and vomiting.

NGOs (UNICEF, MSF, WHO, etc.), in cooperation with the Leonan health administration have made strides in combating the epidemic but more is still needed as new cases appear everyday. (WHO)

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