Ten years of brutal civil war had a devastating effect on the people of Sierra Leone – killing tens of thousands and maiming many physically as well as mentally. More than two million people were forced from their homes and into a life of abject poverty.
Since the war ended in 2002, sickness and disease have become the biggest threat to people’s lives.
Sierra Leone consistently falls at the bottom of the United Nations ranking of living conditions; it is currently rated 180 out of 187 countries (UN Human Development Index 2011). It also has one of the highest rates of maternal and child mortality in the world.
Many communities have poor access to water and general sanitation is often appalling. The majority live in rural areas and rely on water from rivers, pools, shallow wells, springs and swamps, which is often dirty. They are vulnerable to outbreaks of waterborne diseases such as diarrhoea, hepatitis A, cholera and typhoid fever.
Lassa fever spread by rats, yellow fever, malaria, meningitis, TB and sexually transmitted infections (such as HIV which is on the increase) are also all serious concerns.
Red Cross support
©InfoThe British Red Cross is supporting the Sierra Leone Red Cross in improving people’s health and equipping them with the skills they need to prevent and respond to illness and injury in their own communities through a health programme, which covers:
- HIV and AIDS
- reproductive and child health
- water, sanitation and hygiene promotion
- prevention and control of communicable disease
- public health in emergencies; volunteers trained to respond to crises in their communities.
Find out how Red Cross volunteers trained in first aid are saving lives in their communities.
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