The people of Liberia were severely affected by the civil wars of 1989-96 and 1999-2003, not least the many who were forced to flee their homes. In 2007, 95% of the population lived in poverty (below US $ 2/day). Only more than half of rural residents have access to clean water. Malnutrition is also a major problem. Infant mortality (children who died before the age of one year) was extremely high during and between wars, averaging close to 130 per 1,000 live births. In 2016, the corresponding figure was estimated to be 54. The average life expectancy was around 42 years in the early 1990s, but has now risen to 57 years for men and 61 years for women (2016).
Health care and welfare systems are only extended to a limited extent. In 1975, the National Social Security and Welfare Corporation was formed to administer pensions, sickness benefits and other social security funds. In 1987, this body introduced a national pension system as well as a system for occupational injury insurance. Visit AbbreviationFinder to see the definitions of LBR and acronym for Liberia.
Access to healthcare is very poor; In 2009, there were seven hospital beds per 10,000 residents. Since the outbreak of the civil war in December 1989, health care in Liberia has been administered mainly by various aid organizations. The shortage of doctors is acute; In 2009, just over 120 doctors were active in Liberia, of which more than half were foreigners affiliated with international organizations. Qualified personnel are available at about half of all deliveries. Of the total government expenditure in 2009, health care costs accounted for about 17%.
The incidence of HIV/AIDS increased during the last civil war, largely because of the many rapes. In recent years, the trend seems to have turned down again; In 2009, 1.5% of the population aged 15-49 were estimated to be infected. However, the incidence of tuberculosis is increasing.