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In Swaziland, there is a different fertility rate among the Swazi people in different regions. In urban centers, there are 2.7 children per woman in urban centers and 3.9 per woman in the rural areas. Study shows that there is variation between the fertility rate of women with different literacy levels and economic status. A detailed study revealed that those women who went beyond secondary level in education had as their fertility rate as low as 2.4 while those who did not go to school at all had a fertility rate of 4.9. Economically, studies by USAID showed that there was inverse proportionality between the wealth of the household and the fertility rates. Among the men, studies revealed that the poor men desired large families too while the well off had small families just as women, (Gupta & Leite, 1999).
In average, women are married off t the age of 24.3years, only 26 % are married at the age of twenty an below, the highest rate of marriages for women take place between twenty and thirty year, this contributes to 90% of the remaining fraction. Child bearing on the other hand is highest at the age of 25 to 40. Those who start giving birth below the age of 18 are less than a quota of the whole population (Gupta & Leite, 1999). 10% of the population of gives birth at the age of 15 to 19 even if they are not married. This
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People from Swaziland have realized that too many children with less resource pose a problem to the family especially in matter s of education. The ideal number of children per wife in a family was between four and six initially but now they have reduced the number to two and even more have decided to avoid the polygamous families (Gupta & Leite, 1999). Generally, the idea that children were seen as a resource for the family has faded away. Most women have started using modern methods of family planning. This facilitates the desire of the Swazi women either to stop childbearing or only become pregnant when they plan to.
In 2008 and 2009 according to the studies conducted by the USAID, almost all children at the age of one year had received all the recommended vaccines. Young children suffer from common diseased like malaria, acute respiratory infections and fever. The mothers of the children are responsible and therefore take them to the medical practitioners where they are diagnosed and treated. Breastfeeding of infants is a common practice in Swaziland; women above 90% breast feed their children below the age of six months. In average, children are breastfed for one and half years. Nutrition wise, less than 25% of children below the age of 55 years do not meet the international standards for the rate of growth that is in height and in weight measured against age. It was also realized that children whose mother attained tertiary are least malnourished.
The most stable food in Swaziland is maize and sorghum. Cassava, arrowroots, potatoes, vegetables, fruits and animal products supplement. Otherwise, the Swaziland people see food as a means of survival and a gift from their god. They would hold lot of festivals and rituals upon the harvest of food to offer sacrifices to their gods. They named their festivals after food. For example, they had a festival called ‘the first fruit’ (World Bank, 2008)
In Swaziland, food prices fluctuate as dictated by the law of supply and demand. High surplus would be experienced during winter while the shortage would be experienced during summer (World Bank, 2008). They are also dairy farmers; the products from dairy farming like milk are processed to sour milk which they use to feed their children. Slaughtering of cattle is only during ceremonies and therefore meat is not a staple food, (World Bank, 2008).
Swazi people have two very significant dances, “Umhlanga” and “Incwala” which take place in August and December, respectively. ‘Incwala’ means the ‘earliest fruit’; it is sacred to the community. It is the most important dance among the Swazi and has some symbolism. In this kind of the dance all men including the king meet in a noble place called the Kraal at a Ludzidzini and dance for a couple of months (Bankole & Singh, 2008).
Per capita income in urban setting in Swaziland is almost 600 US dollars in average as compared to rural areas where it is half less. In the urban areas, at least, the families can spend as much as 5 dollars a day in average, this translate to almost 1.3 dollars per individual. This means that the families are food secure. On the other hand the rural areas per capita income is averaged to less than 1 dollar a day, which means the spending on food is equally less; therefore families in rural are food insecure. In average, 40% of infants in Swaziland are prone to suffer brain damage as a result of deficiencies in vitamin. Adults as well are faced by the risk of malnourishment especially in the rural areas. 10% the general adult population are likely to suffer from goiter due to lack of iodine according to a report from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), (Swaziland, 2007).
Lower productivity of the workforce can be attributed to these problems especially in the rural Swaziland. Swaziland's GDP growth annually is averaged to 2%. This is further pulled down by the effects of vitamin deficiencies on productivity. Over 60% of Swazis are imprisoned in a circle of poverty, based on a report by the USAID. This does not allow room for improving standards of living in the country, (Swaziland, 2007).
In an attempt to cub these problems, the government of Swaziland has tried to fund ministry of health and agriculture so that they can address the problem of nutrition. It has also come up with an education program and counseling services on feeding of infants and young children. Issues of iodine shortage have been addressed through de-worming of children, supplanting ions for expectant mothers, universal salt iodization; encourage diverse productivity of food to address diet issues.
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Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) like HIV and AIDs is a catastrophe Swaziland is facing. The high rates of their spread can be attributed to polygamy. Cigarette smoking is also common in Swaziland but it has not reached a high score in the side effects on humanity. Alcohol is normally ceremonial; the Swazi drink a local brew which is made from sour millet. The brew has never been known to cause any serious damage to human health, (Swaziland, 2009).
Other drugs like the marijuana are not common; it is available only in the urban centers. The youth in the urban centers are in danger of exposure to such drugs. Dancing, vigorous games and farm activities that are conducted on a daily basis help the Swazi people to keep healthy.
As a safety measure to high HIV and AIDs prevalence in the country, use of condoms should be encouraged during sexual intercourse, especially for unmarried couples. A heavy awareness campaign and sensitization program should be conducted in the region as means to reduce the spread of this pandemic.
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