Friday, October 20, 2006

97 Percent Sierra Leoneans Live in Poverty

A Medicine San Frontiere (MSF) 2005 survey on health emergencies in Sierra Leone reveals that 97% of the country's population is living in chronic poverty. "97% of the population lives under the threshold of extreme poverty with less than $ 1/person/day," the report states, adding that a household of 7.4 people lives on an average of Le 24,500 a week (about $ 10). It also divulged that in a predominantly poor population where a person spends less than $ 0.2 a day, to pay $ 3 for a single episode of sickness is a lot of money. According to the report, in a hospital without external financial support, the price for a caesarian section is extremely high. The report states that in some incidents mothers are kept in hospitals until they settle their bills. The family has to incur debt before they raised the funds. The report shows that about 50% of the population does not use the formal health sector. It reveals that despite the national health policy stating children under five, suckling mothers and elderly people should be exempted from payment, only 3.5% are exempted.