Togo, a small country in West Africa, has struggled for years to recover from a lengthy period of political violence. The Togo government suffered from corruption issues during the 1990s and experienced a decline in international aid in subsequent years, which instigated a decline in the Togo economy. Although the situation has stabilized, more than 30 percent of the country's population lives below the poverty line. ChildFund has worked in Togo since 1984 and has helped thousands of children and their families endure difficult times. Today, lack of affordable health care remains an urgent problem in Togo.
Togo has a population of approximately 6.2 million people, according to the World Bank. Access to high-quality and affordable health care services varies across the country, but families living in rural areas often experience great difficulty securing even basic medical treatment. The effects of poverty on children are especially harsh. The child mortality rate is high in Togo, with almost 73 infant deaths out of every 1,000 births. Even if children survive into infancy, approximately 110 children out of every 1,000 have a high probability of dying before the age of 5, according to 2009 figures from the World Health Organization (WHO).
Togo has one of the highest rates of HIV infection in Western Africa. The number of people living with HIV in Togo has risen steadily since 1990, with rates of infection increasing rapidly between 1990 and 2000. Although it is difficult to assess the impact of the spread of HIV on families, the WHO estimates that between 50,000 and 91,000 children in Togo were orphaned by HIV-related deaths in 2007.
ChildFund has worked in Togo for almost 30 years and continues to make a difference in the lives of children and their families, particularly in regard to affordable health care. One of the most important initiatives we have been involved in has been the installation of latrines and other sanitation facilities. Providing access to safe drinking water is an effective way to combat the spread of preventable diseases such as tuberculosis. In addition, we have helped people across Togo form community water committees, so that newly installed water pumps and sanitation facilities are managed appropriately.
Another initiative that has had a positive impact on the lives of children and their families has been the national vaccination program. Through community education projects, ChildFund has provided vaccines that will protect them against preventable, yet potentially serious, diseases such as diphtheria, measles, whooping cough and polio. As well as providing families with the information they need to make informed decisions about their health, ChildFund has also been instrumental in supplying local clinics with equipment and medications.
Without the generous support of our donors and sponsors, we could not help as many people. To help us continue to fight child poverty in Togo and other countries, please consider making a donation to our Children's Greatest Needs fund. Alternatively, our Real Gifts catalog offers you many ways to make a difference in the lives of children, including a range of gifts that provide safe drinking water, sanitation facilities and medical supplies to communities that need them most.