About Sierra leone
Sierra Leone is a country in West Africa. It has a population of over 6 million people, with over 1 million living in the capital of Freetown. It is recovering from a decade-long civil war which ended in 2002, the results of which include children amputees and stunted economic growth. Presently, Sierra Leone remains at the bottom of the UN's league for human development. The current life expectancy is 56 years of age.
The country boasts miles of unspoilt beaches which officials hope to aid economic growth by attracting tourism. It is also rich in diamonds, infamously known as 'blood diamonds' for their role in helping to fund the rebels during the civil war. Nowadays, the diamond industry has helped the country's development, with big multi-national companies such as Tiffany investing in them.
Though education is legally required for children up to junior secondary education, a shortage of schools and teachers has made implementation impossible. The civil war itself resulted in the destruction of over 1,200 primary schools. Smiling World places utmost importance in the education of children: read about our dental school project.
Unfortunately, there is a lack of healthcare facilities in Sierra Leone, mostly as a result of the civil war. In 2007, Sierra Leone had the highest child mortality rate than anywhere in the world.
All medical care is generally paid for in Sierra Leone. This, coupled with the outbreaks of disease that the country is continuously stricken with, contributes greatly to the diminishing of the quality of life. It is not uncommon for locals to instead turn to 'traditional medicine', which can cause life-long disabilities and often doesn't solve the problem at all.
The oral health sector is neglected even more. There are only 4 dentists serving the population of Sierra Leone, and 2 of them are about to retire. Oral cancer is prevalent, with about 1 in every 1,000 children developing Burkitt Lymphoma. Dental infections account for 80% of occurrences of Ludwig's Angina, a serious, life-threatening infection, which, if left untreated, can obstruct the airways and cause death. Often, a serious infection of the bone called osteomyelitis also occurs, which is fatal if untreated.
It has never been more important to do our part. There is no reason for a child to die from a disease that is very treatable and easily preventable. Find out more about what we do and what you can do to help.