Common Diseases in NamibiaSitting on the west coast of southern Africa, the nation of Namibia has enjoyed decades of stability and freedom after its independence from South Africa in 1990. Although Namibia has existed as a peaceful nation for years, like every country it faces health challenges. Common diseases in Namibia range from HIV/AIDS to water-borne infections; however, over the years significant progress has been made in combating these diseases.

The leading cause of death in Namibia is HIV/AIDS, which killed about 4,300 people in 2016. With over 230,000 individuals living with HIV/AIDS, it is also the most common disease in Namibia. However, there has been a significant drop in HIV/AIDS deaths in Namibia since 2000, decreasing from 403 deaths (per 100,000) in 2000 to 159.1 (per 100,000) in 2012.

With a dispersed population of 2.4 million, most of Namibia’s inhabitants are rural dwellers, which means they have limited access to clean drinking water and sanitation. This puts the population at high risk for major infectious diseases. These are diseases such as malaria, bacterial diarrhea, hepatitis A, and typhoid fever, which account for about 8.5 percent of deaths in Namibia.

Namibia is also struggling with cardiovascular diseases and diabetes, with heart disease accounting for 8.1 percent of deaths and diabetes accounting for 4.3 percent of deaths. In Namibia, obesity is also a problem, with the adult prevalence rate rising to 16.8 percent in 2016. These health complications are continuing to rise on the list of causes of death.

Fortunately, Namibia has shown significant progress in its health status. From 2000-2012, the life expectancy for both sexes increased by 9 years. Also, lower respiratory infections, preterm birth complications, and diarrheal diseases have significantly decreased as causes of death.

These common diseases in Namibia are wide-ranging, but improving over time with the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals. Although HIV/AIDS is still a major problem in Namibia, many of the infected are able to manage and live with the disease. The progress made in the population’s health is remarkable and continues to improve.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Flickr