According to the World Health Organization (WHO), less than a quarter of the population in developing nations lives to age 70. In addition, almost a third of deaths in those countries occur among children younger than 14. These are the top 10 causes of death in developing countries as listed by WHO.
Top 10 Causes of Death in Developing Countries
- Coronary Heart Disease
The most common of all the causes of death in developing countries is coronary heart disease (CHD). In 2015, CHD was responsible for approximately 7.4 million deaths; an estimated three-quarters of these deaths took place in low and middle-income countries. CHD is the disease of the blood vessels supplying the heart, and is caused by poor dieting habits, physical inactivity and excessive drinking or smoking, according to the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute.
- Lower Respiratory Infections
Lower respiratory infections, such as pneumonia and bronchiolitis, cause more than 1.5 million deaths annually, 42 percent of which occur in developing countries. As stated in a paper published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), these infections are the leading cause of death in children under five and are caused by poor living conditions.
In 2016, HIV/AIDS caused one million deaths. As stated in a Business Insider article, for many years, HIV/AIDS was the leading cause of death in Africa; however, this is no longer the case due to increased education on prevention and treatment.
- Perinatal Conditions
Of the 133 million babies born each year, 2.8 million die within the first week of life. This is called perinatal mortality; it refers to the death of a mother or her child in the time during and following birth. These deaths could be prevented by improving the quality of health care for pregnant women, especially during delivery.
- Stroke and Other Cerebrovascular Diseases
Five million people die from stroke each year. As noted in a paper published by the NCBI, prevention tactics include eliminating smoking, improving dietary habits and increasing physical inactivity.
- Diarrheal Diseases
According to WHO, approximately 525,000 children under the age of five die from diarrheal diseases each year. These diseases can be prevented by drinking clean water and practicing good sanitation habits.
More than one million people die from malaria each year. According to CDC, malaria is most prevalent in Africa due to a mosquito, Anopheles gambiae complex, which transmits the disease. Young children and pregnant women are most at risk in Africa due to undeveloped or decreased immunity.
There were 1.7 million deaths from tuberculosis in 2016. According to the Health Sector Priorities Review from the World Bank, tuberculosis is treatable, but without chemotherapy, the death rate is 50 percent.
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)
WHO estimates that in 2015, 3.17 million deaths were caused by COPD, 90 percent of which occurred in low or middle-income countries. As noted in an NCBI paper, cigarette smoking has increased in developing countries, causing a rise in smoking-related diseases, such as COPD.
- Traffic Accidents
More than 1.25 million people die each year from road traffic accidents, 90 percent of which occur in low- or middle-income countries. According to WHO, causes of road traffic accidents include unsafe vehicles, inadequate law enforcement, drivers under the influence and speeding. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has set the target of halving the number of deaths and injuries caused by crashes by 2020. Possible prevention methods include better education and safer roads and vehicles.
All of these causes of death in developing countries are preventable or treatable. WHO reported that the U.S. spends $8,362 per person per year on health, while Eritrea, a country in Africa, spends $12 per person per year on health. In this way, improving healthcare services in developing nations will substantially decrease the number of deaths.
– Olivia Booth