In Sierra Leone, the challenges are many for more than 8.8 million residents (2023 current est.) who live in a country which spends less than 9 percent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare compared to 18.8 percent in the United States in 2020, according to the CIA World Factbook.
It is also a country where the life expectancy at birth for the total population (average of men and women) is just 59.07 compared with 80.75 in the U.S., and where there are only 0.07 physicians per 1,000 residents, compared with 2.61 per 1,000 in the U.S.
And it’s a sad fact that Sierra Leone is ranked by the World Health Organization as having the highest death rate from malaria in the world, which is also the leading cause of death in the country with two million reported cases annually, of which half are children under 5 years old.
Malaria is a serious and sometimes fatal vectorborne disease caused by a parasite that commonly infects a certain type of mosquito which feeds on humans, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“People who get malaria are typically very sick with high fevers, shaking chills and flu-like illness,” states the CDC. “Although malaria can be a deadly disease, illness and death from malaria can usually be prevented.”
In Sierra Leone, malaria illnesses and deaths are usually due to a lack of available common – and inexpensive – antimalarial medicines such as chloroquine which is taken both as a preventative as well as to treat those who have contracted malaria – at cost of about $2 per dose in the U.S.
For years, Bread and Water for Africa®, has been shipping donated medicines, medical supplies and equipment to our partners in Cameroon, Ethiopia and Sierra Leone which operate hospitals and clinics serving the impoverished including Rural Youth Development Organization – Sierra Leone (RYDO-SL), which operates two hospitals and eight maternity and health centers.
In response to the ongoing malaria crisis in the country, we are preparing a shipment of medicines, including antimalarial drugs, and medical supplies for use by RYDO-SL clinics and hospitals, which last year alone provided free and low-cost medical care to more than 45,000 children, mothers and fathers and elders.
Among those who have recently received medical treatment at RYDO-SL’s Mokpendeh Health Center was 61-year-old Mr. Eddie Fogbawa, a local diamond miner who arrived at the health center complaining of a high fever.
Mr. Fogbawa, who reported not feeling well for the past four years, was diagnosed with a kidney infection and given the medicine Cinacalcet which treats chronic kidney disease.
Two months later, Mr. Fogbawa returned to the health clinic and informed the nurses that there was a significant improvement in his condition since before when he had been experiencing severe stomach pains.
“The medicine gave me quite a bit of relief,” he says today. “I thanks be to God and Bread and Water for Africa®.”
And, as for RYDO-SL program director Joseph Kobba:
“On behalf of the people of Sierra Leone, the 45,000 beneficiaries and the more than 50,000 indirect beneficiaries, RYDO-SL wants to express its sincere gratitude and appreciation to the supporters of Bread and Water for Africa® for all the donations of medicines and medical supplies we have received over the years.”