While reading David Van Reybrouck`s brilliant book called „Congo – a history“, Mr. Reybrouck brought to my attention the life expectancy in DR Congo, which is about 45 years. Not because people die at 45, but because child deaths are so frequent that it lowers the total average.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), 6 out of 10 children will never live see their 5th birthday. WHO also estimates that over 400 children die every day in the Congo, where half of them die from Malaria. The CIA Factbook claims that out of 1000 live births, 73.15 children die before reaching the age of one year.
So why does this matter? Why is saving the children in the poorest part of the world important? Is it just to save a life, a life that is adds to an already overpopulated continent?
The short answer is no. Hans Rosling is a Swedish medical doctor, academic and statistician who runs Gapminder.org. He suggests the opposite. In a world with over 7 billion people, the families in the richest part of the world, 5 billion only get 2 children per family. While in the poorest part with 2 billion people, families get an average of 5 children per family. By lowering child mortality, poor families no longer need to compensate with more children then they can afford, and such reduce child mortality in this part of the world.
Until I first visited Congo one year ago these issues were very vague to me, and now, living in Norway with other time-consuming duties it is easy to forget it and go on with my daily life, even though I have seen with my own eyes how little it takes to literally save a child´s life, by:
- Making mosquito nets against Malaria available for everyone.
- Distributing vaccines and Antibiotics to vulnerable groups, in isolated rural districts, which are unable to get to the hospitals, either because it`s to far or too expensive.
- Handing out contraceptives to prevent the spreading of AIDS.
- Education and family planing.
Luckily Great Actions for Development have local volunteers who do not forget. These are their time-consuming duties and this is their normal life – because they themselves know they are lucky, to still be alive.
I highly recommend this book for those of you who want to understand Congo and its amazing history and people: