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Leading Causes Of Death Among Children Of Female Sex Workers Revealed In Eye-Opening New Study

By: PRLog

The study, the largest ever conducted on the deaths of children of female sex workers (FSW), documents the preventable causes of death among these children in eight low- and middle-income countries.

PORTLAND, Ore. - March 26, 2024 - PRLog -- The first-ever study on deaths among children of female sex workers (FSW), spearheaded by Global Health Promise, an Oregon-based nonprofit dedicated to supporting the maternal health of mothers in sex work and the health of their children, sheds light on the dire plight facing many children of female sex workers (CFSW) in eight low-to-middle income countries. The study also highlights steps needed to prevent additional deaths among these extremely vulnerable children.

Published by the Journal of Global Health, the study analyzed the deaths of 589 CFSW reported by FSW. Country-specific causes of CFSW deaths varied; however, nutritional deficiencies comprised the leading cause of mortality, accounting for 20.7% of deaths, followed closely by accidents (20.0%), particularly house fires, overdoses (19.4%), communicable diseases (18.5%), and homicides (9.8%). Other reported causes of death included neonatal conditions, respiratory illnesses, and suicides.

"No matter the age of the child or the cause of death, the truth is that these children are living in brothels or homes where they are chronically exposed to the economic hardship, psychosocial stress, and violence often associated with sex work. These children are exposed daily to adverse childhood experiences that shape them and leave them vulnerable to future polyvictimization if they survive to adulthood," explained Dr. Wendy L. Macias-Konstantopoulos, Global Health Promise's global policy advisor and an emergency physician and faculty at Harvard Medical School. She is also the lead author of the study.

"The suffering and death of these children is unacceptable," added Brian Willis, Director of Global Health Promise, and a co-author of the paper. "Too much funding and emphasis from governments, especially the US government, and major donors, is on HIV/AIDS among FSW while completely ignoring the situation of millions of children of FSW."

The study collected data across 24 cities in Angola, Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya, South Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), and Nigeria. Global Health Promise collaborated with partners at Massachusetts General Hospital (Boston), Harvard Medical School (Boston), Dalhousie University (Canada), Mothers for the Future (South Africa), and sex worker organizations and other NGOs in these eight countries, on the study and analysis.

A total of 1,280 FSW mothers participated in 165 information-gathering sessions across the eight study countries and reported child deaths during these sessions. According to the study, the largest number of CFSW deaths were reported in the DRC (46.2%) followed by Kenya (26.5%) and Nigeria (14.1%).

The ages of the deceased children ranged from those less than a day old to 23 years. The highest death count was reported among children aged one to four years (38.9%) followed by infants under the age of one year (32.3%) and five to nine-year-olds (17%).

By publishing this study, Global Health Promise advocates for governments and other organizations to begin counting these deaths in country health statistics and create policies/targeted interventions that focus resources on improving the physical, mental, and socioeconomic health of FSW mothers and their children.

To view the study in its entirety, please visit: Causes of preventable death among children of female sex worker mothers in low- and middle-income countries: A community knowledge approach investigation — JOGH.

Photos: (Click photo to enlarge)

Global Health Promise

Source: Global Health Promise

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