From the Happiness of Children

November 30, 2018 in Allgemein, Wissen by guenther_michels

Author: Maximilian Glätzner

The look in Weltalmanach 2018 reveals that in 2016 in Germany 82,668,000 people lived. Since 2015, the population in Germany has been shrinking annually by about 0.1%. A woman in Germany gets on average 1.5 children. The birth rates are thus low compared to the rest of the world. Of the 1000 infants, just over 99.7% survive their first year of life in Germany. Again, 99.6% of these children will reach the age of five; the children then have an average life expectancy of 82 years.

What do these data tell us? They merely reflect statistical realities that are of particular interest in demographic, economic and political contexts. The world almanac reveals nothing about the actual reality of births and events. Numbers and dates can not represent the experience of having a child. So what does it mean for a mother to have a child in Germany? Of course, this varies from mother to mother and one would have to question a mother in Germany, but certain tendencies can also be observed in this way: In Germany people generally talk about having children – having a child is essential for most parents-to-be good news and something fulfilling in life.

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At first, pregnancy may surprise, but very quickly, joy spreads. Often then first the life partner is informed and then their own parents, who, of course, are looking forward to their grandchild as expectant grandparents. Young parents are now beginning to choose a name for their child and start shopping for baby things. Everything has to be thought of when the child sees the light of day: clothing, food, vials for milk, diapers, toys, stuffed animals and much more. Maybe you even start to set up a nursery for the child, with the right furniture of course. Other parents are now thinking about moving and looking for a new home for the growing family.

There’s a lot to do, anyway, and it seems like all the other ingredients of life that were so important before – for example, your own career – take a back seat. All that matters is the baby and the family. Of course, the pregnant women more often to the gynecologist to observe and accompany the development of the small embryo. Pregnant mothers are not likely to worry more than the child in the abdomen is not feeling well, but in most cases, pregnancy is without serious complications. There comes the time when the nine month pregnancy comes to an end. Quite often, courses are attended to learn how to handle and practice a baby. Others read books about babies and early childhood education, and others ask their own parents for advice on what to look for in a newborn baby.

Eventually, you will get an appointment for delivery and sooner or later you will go to a hospital – of course there are exceptions such as a birthing center or the option of having a midwife help you to have the child at home. The hospital provides intensive care and there are a number of medical options available – should there be reason to believe that there is a need for action: is the baby in the right position? Should a cesarean section be performed if necessary? Should one initiate the birth by medication earlier than planned or even delay it? Of course, there can still be complications. In rare cases, the newborn does not yet have the ability to live independently and must be placed in an incubator and artificially ventilated and nourished. For the parents, this is certainly not nice and associated with fears, but a team of doctors and nurses help the parents to master the situation.

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However, the figures given above give a fairly authentic picture of medical reality: in the rarest cases, there are complications and in most cases, parents can soon welcome their child home. At the latest then the name of the child should be known, if one writes thank you cards for the many congratulations of relatives, friends and acquaintances. The children’s happiness is now perfect. Even though there are always worries and problems associated with children and their growing up, there are few parents who regret having had a child. Looking forward to children may seem self-evident here in Germany and we are often unaware of possible complications here in Germany. The reality of pregnancies and births, however, is quite different in other parts of the planet. As an example Ghana should serve us here, as I myself was in Ghana in the summer of 2017 and we have a focus of our work in Ghana with the NGO Healthcare Information Technologies for Africa e.V., HITA e.V for short.

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In 2016, 28,207,000 people lived in Ghana. The population is growing by 2% annually. This is mainly due to the high birth rates in Ghana: A Ghanaian woman gives birth to 4.1 children on average. There are big differences on the other side but also in terms of mortality rates. Of the newborn children, only 95.7% will complete their first year of life. Of these 95.7%, another 6.2% will not be four years old. In numbers, that’s over 56,000 children a year in Ghana, who die before the age of five. But even the children in Ghana, who are older than four years, only have a life expectancy of 61 years. That is more than 20 years less than the life expectancy in Germany or other industrial nations. These figures give an idea of ​​Ghana’s economic and medical reality. The country is still characterized by poverty and the known medical infrastructure exists only for the privileged in the big cities. Ghanaians who live in the rural outskirts of Ghana (such as in eastern Ghana, where we are active as HITA e.V) will often never see a doctor in their lives. In fact, in many areas there is a massive shortage of doctors, not to mention lack of medicines and equipment. Almost all healthcare in these areas is based on non-medical medical staff: nurses, nurses and midwives.

The hygienic situation in the “health center” on site – these are nurses ‘and midwives’ wards and nursing stations – is often catastrophic due to the lack of equipment, and the infection rate is correspondingly high. Especially in birth medicine it comes so many fatal infections in the mothers. There are no infant incubators or respiratory masks: if a child comes too early, it often dies without the chance of adequate medical care. Examinations during pregnancy are also far too rare and the quality of these examinations is poor: complications can not be detected in time. Since there are no trained medical specialists, it is not possible to adequately respond to complications. But what does all this mean for the local people? What does that mean for the individual Ghanaian mother, who does not worry about all the above numbers and only wants to give birth to her child in a healthy way? Of course, I can not really answer that question either, but I still remember the pregnant woman from a health center about 20 minutes from the East Ghanaian city of Ho.

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There is also a maternity ward at this Health Care Center. In a rundown building are three rooms separated by cloths. In one of these rooms is a cold table made of precious metal that looks a bit like a dissecting table. On this table lay the heavily pregnant woman, half-naked, wrapped only in cloths. There was no blanket or mattress on the table. She was very excited and very anxious. I could not recognize the joy in her face, she did not want to talk. She will have worried a lot. She’s probably wondering, “What happens if something goes wrong and my child needs help? What happens if I die and my child has to grow up without a mother? What if my child is not born healthy, how can I help him? How will I feed the child at all? “

Of course, the midwives and nurses could not reassure them either, as they know that giving birth in these parts of Ghana is very dangerous. Of course, the infant mortality rate is significantly higher in the rural areas of Ghana than, for example, in the capital Accra. Whether the child was lying around and was healthy, nobody knew at that time. How the birth went out and whether the child was born healthy and the mother survived, I do not know. In any case, after a successful birth, she would have come to the little room next door to spend the next few days on one of the five beds – in the hope that she would not catch an infection or get more bleeding. In any case, it is certain that a Ghanaian mother seldom gets only one child. The risk of dying during childbirth is correspondingly high.

Here in Germany is indeed spoken of children’s happiness, in Ghana, the reality for the people is unfortunately too often more of a misfortune. Of course, the parents in Ghana still love and enjoy their children. But what seems completely trivial to us is a privilege elsewhere in the world. We at HITA e.V want to change that, we want children to be great luck for the people of Ghana and other African countries. For this purpose, we are trying to sustainably improve the healthcare system and rely on IT structures. Find out about our work and support us!


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