Liberia has come a long way since the war ended in 2003. Access to basic health services has improved significantly. The country slashed the death rate of children under 5 by two thirds, achieving one of the key Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Three quarters of children are immunized against measles and there have been no new polio cases recorded since 2010.
Still, not every child stands a chance to survive.
Imagine 152 yellow school buses, carrying a total of 11,000 young children. That’s how many children under 5 die every year in Liberia. They lose their lives to easily preventable diseases such as neonatal causes, malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and measles. And the most vulnerable are newborn babies. At least a third of all under-five mortality occurs in the first month of life.
To make matters worse, pregnant women and mothers are also at risk. Liberia has one of the world’s highest rates of maternal mortality. One out of every ten women dies while pregnant, giving birth to their babies or in the aftermath of delivery. When a mother dies, the likelihood of her baby dying increases.
Progress in Liberia is also hampered by high levels of malnutrition and a fragile healthcare system that deny children a fighting chance to survive common childhood illnesses.
Liberia loses 11,000 children under five each year.
Close to one in three children and adults live five kilometeres or more from a health facility. Trained health staff is in short supply, medicines are not always available and the outbreak of Ebola in 2014 and 2015 reversed many gains in child and maternal health.