Karen Leigh is a contributor to TIME, The Atlantic and others, currently in Berlin and previously based in West Africa. She also reported for TIME during the Arab Spring from Bahrain, Jordan, Egypt and Libya; worked as an anchor and reporter for Mint/WSJ in New Delhi; edited at an English-language daily in Cambodia; and traveled with the 2008 U.S. presidential campaigns for Bloomberg News. She has written for Monocle, The Newsweek Daily Beast and Foreign Policy and guested on Bloomberg TV and Deutsche Welle.
It’s one of UNICEF’s less recognized success stories: the global child mortality rate has fallen by nearly 50 percent in the last two decades. Last month, the agency announced that 6.9 million children died before age five in 2011 - a number that, while still high, has been drastically reduced from 12 million in 1990.
Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, is marked by slums that sprawl for miles along the shore of the Atlantic Ocean. For centuries, its seaside location has made it a coastal trade hub. Now, in an unusually heavy rainy season that has seen increased flooding, that same proximity to the water has transformed these ramshackle communities into ground zero for the deadliest strain of cholera West Africa has seen in decades.
One-third of adults worldwide have a single, noncommunicable disease - high blood pressure - and the number will continue to rise, the UN’s World Health Organization said in its annual World Statistics report, released Wednesday. Chronic conditions, including blood pressure, cancer and cardiovascular diseases, now account for two-thirds of all global deaths.
In coastal Accra—the seat of one of the world’s fastest-growing economies—industry has been expanding in more ways than one. Ghana, known as one of the most stable countries in West Africa, has become a major global hub for cocaine trafficking. Smugglers have been escalating their activity across the region in recent years, using Ghana, Guinea Bissau and other countries in the Sahel region as way stations between Latin America and Europe, where cocaine sales total more than $2 billion per year.
BERLIN - On a recent wintermorning on a train leaving Berlin's underground Alexanderplatz station, a car filled withyoung Germans skidded by, the passengers toasting with open bottles ofchampagne and wine. In the station's corner, an older man sat hunched, hishands wrapped tightly around a bottle of vodka. Alcohol was pieced into themoment seamlessly-a part of life, a way to celebrate, a means to stay warm.