Ethiopia lies in Africa between Sudan and Somalia. Medical care is poor there and many people die young. According to BBC News, the life expectancy for men there is only 54. The life expectancy for women is only 56. Many die in childhood. Child health issues are very serious in Ethiopia.
According to UNICEF, 92,000 Ethiopian children ages 14 and under had HIV in 2007. Ethiopian children living with HIV often do not have access to medications used to treat the disease. In addition, they may live in unsanitary conditions and lack adequate nutrition, increasing their risk of an early death due to disease.
From 2005 to 2008, only five percent of children under the age of five with suspected pneumonia received antibiotics. From 2006 to 2008, ten percent of children under the age of five suffered from fevers and received anti-malarial drugs.
According to UNICEF, 20 percent of Ethiopian infants were underweight at birth from 2003 to 2008. A common cause of low birth weight in infants is lack of proper nutrition for mothers during pregnancy. Breastfeeding is very common in Ethiopia but if breastfeeding mothers lack adequate nutrition themselves, babies may not get the nutrients they need either.
During that same time period, 51 percent of children under the age of five suffered from moderate to severe malnutrition. Severe malnutrition at such an early age can be deadly but even when it’s not, permanent damage can be done to developing bodies and brains. For instance, vitamin A deficiency can lead to visual impairment and vitamin B12 deficiency can cause permanent nerve damage.
Access to Health Care
Population Action International reports that nearly 80 percent of all deaths in Ethiopia result from preventable communicable diseases and nutritional illnesses. Children may be even more vulnerable to these than adults.
Many Ethiopians lack access to reliable health care services. Access to health care services varies from region to region throughout the country but is probably inadequate everywhere. Many children receive vaccines against certain childhood diseases, like polio, but not all do. Many do not receive treatment for simple illnesses like diarrhea or basic nutritional deficiencies. Many women lack prenatal care during pregnancy, as well.
BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/africa/country_profiles/1072164.stm. Ethiopian Country Profile.
UNICEF. http://www.unicef.org/infobycountry/ethiopia_statistics.html. Ethiopia Statistics.
Population Action International. http://www.populationaction.org/Publications/Working_Papers/Poor_Access_to_Health_Services_in_Ethiopia/Summary.shtml. Poor Access to Health Services.