Life expectancy projections are not one of those statistics any sane human should throw to the dustbin. Julie Gamboa made an analysis by Africa Leadership for Child Survival, and it opened her eyes why some deaths occur the way they do.
It is painful and traumatizing for a child below the age of one week who has hardly opened his/her eyes turning cold in a coffin. Such families need a lot of counseling and psycho-social support to come to terms and possibly to move on with life, which not easy.
Many mothers suffer from post-partum psychosis immediately after birth. That condition goes on for a while and naturally disappears. However, it is not the same case to all, some need psychiatric attention to regain normalcy. Julie Gamboa wonders what happens to a mother under this condition and ends up losing a child? Double tragedy.
Life expectancy and mortality rate have everything in common. Julie Gamboa, a medical practitioner, has gone through most statistics while working with the World Health Organization, Africa, and has a lot that shocks about the mortality rates in Sub-Saharan and the life expectancy.
The Sub-Saharan countries are under the highest risk of mortality rate in the world. Of all the neonatal deaths that occur in the world, 35% are in the Sub-Saharan. That is a jaw-dropping figure. Neonatal deaths are the children who die before the age of one week. In simple translation, of the 1000 births, 34 children die.
The mortality rate trend is another worrying issue. These are the children who die before the age of five years. In the Sub-Saharan, Julie Gamboa observes that one out of nine children do not get to the age of 5 years. If you compare this trend with the children in the developed world, one out of 33 does not get to the age of five years. That means the risk of a child in sub-Saharan succumbing to death is 11.1% while it is only 3.01% in the developed countries.
There is a correlation of this data between life expectancy and the births. Julie Gamboa compares Italy and Japan which have the highest life expectancy in the world of 83. The mortality rate in Japan and Italy is 1/333. That is to say, of every 1000 births only 3 succumb to death. Compare that with the life expectancies.
The global life expectancy is 70 years, in Italy and Japan is 83 years, while in Africa is 55 years. There are parts of Africa that have less life expectancy like Angola, Sierra Leone, and Mozambique which have as low as 33 years. The figures are not so far apart when you look at the neonatal and mortality rates.
What Are The Causes Of These Deaths?
While Julie Gamboa and the Team tried to survey on the possible causes if these deaths, they discovered that most of the deaths in children were as a result of Malaria. In the world, almost 500,000 children died of Malaria in 2015. Unfortunately, all those deaths were in Sub-Saharan.
Further results showed that only 2% of children below the age of five years were able to sleep under a treated mosquito net. Which means the rest of the population was prone to mosquito bites and malaria transmission.
Most of the other causes are related to the infections during the delivery process. Pneumonia and diarrhea have killed many children below the age of five years.
More than 165 million children suffer stunted growth in their first 3 years of life. These are purely nutritional matters that confront the families. It is either lack of food, which is most likely or little knowledge on the feeding procedure.
In other countries in Southern Africa, 6 % of the deaths are caused by HIV. South Africa takes 28% of the mortality rate, HIV-related. On the same HIV-related infections Swaziland records 23%.
Julie Gamboa and the team through other medical agencies set up intervention measures that could help to curb the escalating death rates. One of the measures they took was to provide mosquito nets that are treated to the expectant mothers. An area they covered by more than 95%. Every mother that attended the prenatal clinic and postnatal carried a mosquito net home.
The second prevention measure was in Southern Africa especially, Botswana, Swaziland, and South Africa. Julie Gamboa initiated the Preventing Mother To Child Transmission (PMTCT) program in which they successfully covered 90 %. That is one of the most successful programs.
The Oral Rehydration Salts (ORS) was an intervention measure as well that Julie Gamboa and the team used to prevent diarrhea. This measure was very successful too.
The worst hit area is the malnutrition. Most of the families Julie Gamboa discovered that were living in abject poverty and raising income to feed the children were a big issue. This needed a quick short term and long term plans.
The short-term plans Julie Gamboa initiated were to solicit help from the Food agencies like USAID and the rest who came in handy to provide food to the most afflicted families. They did well. Many children were rescued from the most at-risk state to a survival one.
The long-term plan was to help the families be able to sustain themselves in the long run. Julie Gamboa in partnership with stakeholders in the farming sector provided short-term loans to the farmers and the poor families that had farms without capital. The loans were to provide them with the ability to cultivate the land and plant the short-seasoned crops.
The very poor families were provided with grants, to help them start off. The grants were informed of farm inputs. At least from that angle, these families would be able to navigate their nutritional lives throughout all seasons. They were also taught on savings and storing food so that the same conditions do not re-occur.
Julie Gamboa remains to be the most adorable doctor who carried the interest of her patients at heart. She does a lot of research on bringing solutions to more medical complications on childbirth and growth.