Health of African Children


Life in Africa is a hardship in its self, but imagine those same burdens being put on a child.  Growing up in Africa is a struggle beyond any of our imaginations.  Prosperity is an unthinkable goal and survival is the one and only concern.  There are many factors that lead to the suffering of African children.  One vital concern involves the health of these needy children.


The Facts:

17 million children die from malnutrition and starvation each year  
1.4 million children under the age of 15 are living with HIV
19,000 African children die daily from easily curable diseases
80 per cent of children under the age of 15 living with HIV are African childre



                According to the Organization of African Unity, “African children have the worse life chances in the world, and the gap between the survival rates, the education and the development of Africa’s children and the children of other continents is increasing.”  So what contributes to the low survival rates of African children? One large factor is malnutrition.  Every one in three African children born suffers from malnutrition.  Malnutrition has multiple negative effects:

1)       Malnutrition robs children of vital nutrients essential to their growth.  Children victimized by malnutrition grow up stunted, sickly and weak.  On a continent that existence strives on manual labor, malnutrition makes the lives of these frail children even harder.

2)       Malnutrition also robs children of the very important iron mineral.  Well over half of sub-Saharan children under five do not have enough iron to support a healthy lifestyle.  Iron is vital to developing a child’s nervous system.  African children’s lack of iron lead to their trouble with concentration and coordination. These are crucial to their success in education. 

3)       Malnutrition deprives young African children of critical vitamins to their health.  More than half a million children suffer from vitamin A deficiency, which cripples young immune systems.  Inadequate supplements of vitamin A can lower child mortality rate by more than one-fifth.


Trends and projections of the prevalence and number of malnourished children in developing countries, by region, to 2020
Number underweight
    South Asia
92.2 86.0 66.0
    Sub-Saharan Africa 18.5 31.4 48.7
    East Asia 77.6 38.2 21.4
    Near East and North Africa 5.9 6.3 3.2
    Latin America and the Caribbean 9.5 5.2 1.1
    All developing countries 203.8 167.1 140.3

Click here for slideshow of the effects of malnutrition








Meet Tolea.  Tolea was born early one Sunday morning in August and then was left in a paper bag outside of the parish church in Naivasha, Kenya.  After hearing her cries, Tolea was taken in by the parish priest, Daniel Kiriti.  This wasn’t Kiriti’s first experience to an abandoned child.  Kiriti runs an orphanage – which is full of children left at bus stops or rescued from the streets.  Naivasha is not only a town that caters to Western tourists, but also a town plagued by AIDS.  Tolea was just another sign of how the community is collapsing under the disease, and how children are suffering as a result.  Not surprisingly, Tolea was found to be HIV positive. 

    One health issue many African children face is the AIDS pandemic.  Every 9 out of 10 children live in the Sub-Saharan Africa region.  Over 600,00 African infants become infected with aids each year through mother to child transmission.  Studies suggest that one in three newborns infected with HIV die before the age of one, over half die before reaching their second birthday, and most are dead before they are five years old. 

-Over 600,000 African infants become infected with aids each year through mother to child transmission.  Two South-African children

-An estimated 2 million African children under the age of 15 living with aids in 2005

-90% of HIV positive children live in Africa > Less than 10% of these children receive basic support service

-Slightly less than 10% of all African children have lost one of both parents to AIDSAn HIV+ mother with her HIV+ child









The Effects of HIV/AIDS on a Child & Their Family








Click here for slideshow of children of Africa

AIDS in South Africa

    South Africa is currently experiencing one of the most severe HIV epidemics in the world. By the end of 2005, there were five and a half million people living with HIV in South Africa, and almost 1,000 AIDS deaths occurring every day, according to UNAIDS estimates. A survey published in 2004 found that South Africans spent more time at funerals than they did having their hair cut, shopping or having barbecues. It also found that more than twice as many people had been to a funeral in the past month than had been to a wedding.



            Each night, African children go to bed with hopes that a single bite from an infected mosquito will not lead to their demise.  The sad part is, that is truly all it takes for a child to become infected with malaria.  There are over 300 million cases of malaria each year, which results in more than a million deaths.  Around 90 percent of these deaths occur in Africa.  Malaria is the leading cause of death among children under five years old.  A small child whose body is unable to fight the disease can be dead within a day.  The children who do survive have to then live with the effects of the deadly disease.   Effects include anemia, epilepsy, and other permanent neurological problems.  Malaria also increases poverty in the continent of Africa. Family savings are often spent for the purchase of drugs.  Malaria frequently occurs at harvest time, which leads to a reduction in crops and an increase in hunger. 








Africa's Children

Children Africa, what comes to mind
Children Africa, do you see smiling faces
Children Africa, or do you hear their cry for help
Children Africa, are they just pictures on T.V
Children Africa, are they stats and simply numbers
Children Africa, or do ten's of thousand dies each day
Children Africa, while we eat Ice Cream and watch movies
Children Africa, Does anyone care
Children Africa, does anyone hear
Children Africa, will anyone help






Death is very common to the children of Africa. 20% of Africa's children do not reach the age of six. For these children, life is hard, and most of the world is unaware to their struggles.  African children are amongst the voiceless of the world, needing others to speak on their behalf.  Peter is just one of the voiceless children of Africa.  Peter hasn’t eaten is three days and has spend most of his time in his house lying on a straw mat in an attempt escape his hunger.


“My sister is six years old. There are no grown-ups living with us. I need a bathroom tap and clothes and shoes. And water also, inside the house. But especially, somebody to tuck me and my sister in at night-time.” Apiwe aged 13


Works Cited


“The unhealthiest place on the planet for children.” Stanford Medicine Magazine. 2006. 2 February 2007. 

Fleshman, Michael. “A troubled decade for Africa's children.Africa Recovery. April 2002.  2 February 2007.

“Children Africa.” 2 February 2007. <>

“Children, HIV & AIDS.” Avert. 2 February 2007. <>

 “Malnutrition Is Cheating Its Survivors, and Africa’s Future.” The New York Times. 28 December 2006. 2 February 2007.

 “Africa’s Children – Struggling to Survive.” Out of Africa Too. 12 November 2006. 2 February 2007. <'sChildrenStruggling-to-


Boy playing with his wheel