The Republic of Chad, a landlocked country in central Africa, is home to more than 17.4 million people. Its capital city, N’Djamena, is known for a blend of modern and historical architecture and culture. Apart from its capital, Chad is largely rural. With about 200 ethnic groups, Chad has a diverse cultural history and population; upward of 120 languages and dialects are spoken, with French, Arabic, and Sara recognized as the official languages.
Chad gained its independence in 1960, and has since experienced conflict with bordering countries, invasions, civil warfare, and recurring rebellions. Decades of instability have left much of the population struggling: 66 percent of Chadians live in extreme poverty. Chad’s limited resources and poor infrastructure must also accommodate more than 450,000 refugees from Sudan, the Central African Republic, and Nigeria. Previously a primarily agrarian economy, Chad became heavily dependent on oil after its discovery in 2013. Compounding an already dangerous socioeconomic situation is the impact of climate change and rapid desertification of Lake Chad.
Poverty, conflict, and instability have in turn affected the health of the Chadian population, many of whom experience food insecurity and hunger. About 43 percent of children under five are stunted, and 2.2 million are malnourished. Chad has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in central Africa due to inadequate access to health services. In addition to high maternal mortality, diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory infections, malaria, tuberculosis, stroke, ischemic heart disease, congenital defects, HIV/AIDS, and meningitis contribute most to deaths in the country. Death caused by neonatal disorders is also of notable significance and has increased substantially in recent years. The majority of physicians are concentrated in one region, near N’Djamena; the entire country urgently needs a larger and more evenly distributed healthcare workforce and a more developed healthcare infrastructure. The average life expectancy at birth is 54.
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