Equitorial Guineans (or Equato-Guineans) are people from the Republic of Equatorial Guinea (EG). EG is a relatively small country of roughly a million people that includes the Bioko Islands as well as Annobon, a volcanic island. These nine facts about life expectancy in Equatorial Guinea reflect a country in progress.
9 Facts About Life Expectancy in Equatorial Guinea
- For the entire population of Equatorial Guinea, life expectancy is now 59.8 years old (61.1 years for women and 58.8 years for men). The overall life expectancy has been trending upward for the last half-century and survival to the age of 65 now stands at 55.7 percent for women and 50.5 percent for men.
- The leading causes of death in EG are generally preventable. Some of the leading causes include HIV/AIDS, influenza and pneumonia, chronic heart disease, stroke and diabetes mellitus. While HIV prevalence was estimated at 7.1 percent of the population in 2019, the Equatorial Guinean government is committed to ending the AIDS epidemic by 2030. For example, the country has scaled up its capacity to eliminate mother-to-child transmission of HIV and the percentage of pregnant women accessing antiretroviral medication increased to 74 percent in 2014 from 61 percent in 2011.
- Many Equatoguineans also face chronic hunger. According to Human Rights Watch, one in four children is physically stunted due to poor nutrition. Half of the children who begin primary school never transition to secondary schools, which also affects life expectancy. At the same time, the government of Equatorial Guinea took the lead role in 2013 in providing the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund (ASTF) with $30 million to improve agriculture and food security. ASTF’s projects have especially benefitted women, family farmers and youth across the continent.
- Poor sanitation and ineffective infection control create a risk of exposure to diseases like diarrhea, malaria and tuberculosis. Inadequate sanitation and unhygienic conditions contribute to increased infant mortality, as 20 percent of children die before the age of 5. Equatorial Guinea is also considered the least prepared country for an epidemic, mainly due to its inability to prevent pathogens and toxins.
- Less than half of Equatorial Guinea’s population has access to clean water. The Clean Water Initiative is one effort to meet global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) by supplying clean drinking water in 18 rural sites.
- Frequent and prolonged blackouts, particularly during the dry season, often result from old generators and an unreliable power supply. Electricity can be a matter of life or death in hospitals if medical equipment fails. According to reports, an infrastructure makeover has been underway since 2014 when new roads and power lines were built.
- From 2006-2012, a public-private partnership called the Program for Education Development of Equatorial Guinea (PRODEGE) began working with the country’s education ministry to improve the nation’s education system. A major focus on the training of teachers’ classroom skills aimed to improve the quality of teaching and learning in primary school settings. PRODEGE 2012-2017 sought to amplify the program’s initial achievements on a broader scale by focusing on students in post-primary settings. Both goals align with EG’s 2020 Plan to achieve universal primary school enrollment, which was 84.46 percent in 2012.
- Other barriers to longer life expectancy in Equatorial Guinea include a lack of resources such as condoms and trauma care facilities to handle emergencies. Tensions exist between traditional and modern medicine as well, which affect treatment adherence. Finally, the use of various languages across communities and lack of comprehension regarding basic medical terms also hampers communication between health care providers and patients.
- Interventions for malaria control and studies of incomplete adherence to TB treatment reveal both promise and peril for the country’s capacity to prevent and treat infectious disease. After eight children were paralyzed by polio in the first half of 2014, their immunity strengthened following disease surveillance and vaccination campaigns. The Global Polio Eradication Initiative recommended that further improvements such as routine immunization and community mapping were key components to preventing another outbreak.
Life expectancy in Equatorial Guinea continues a slow upward trajectory. According to UNICEF, drinking water coverage has improved over the last two decades and sanitation coverage improved as well, estimating at over 70 percent. The number of children attending school has also increased over the last five years. Deprivations remain most severe for children living in rural areas, in the poorest households, with mothers who lack education.
As a small oil economy, at a time when oil prices can fall steeply without warning, the challenges to life expectancy in Equatorial Guinea will persist. The government’s willingness to accept outside assistance from international NGOs may hold the greatest promise for its citizens.
– Sarah Wright
On February 25, the Republic of Equatorial Guinea helped bring Africa one step closer to food security by donating $30 million, the very first contribution, to the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund. Originated during the April 2012 regional conference of the Food and Agriculture Organization in the Republic of the Congo, the goal of the trust fund is to assemble resources and funds from the wealthiest African countries and use them to strengthen and support food security efforts across the continent.
The $30 million donations was made during an official ceremony at the third annual Africa-South America Summit in Malabo, the capital of Equatorial Guinea. FAO Director Jose Graziano da Silva, who attended the ceremony, commended the country’s commitment to ending hunger in Africa. FAO African regional representative Maria Semedo invited other African countries to lend financial support commenting that “This generous contribution by Equatorial Guinea helps transform political will to end hunger into concrete action.”
Intended to complement international development aid, not replace it, the Fund will primarily support Africa-directed initiatives and programs that will improve food security and agricultural productivity. One example is the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program, which works to reduce poverty through environmentally sound agricultural and land management practices, as well as improved food supply and market access. Its first efforts will focus on improving regional responses to recurring droughts and other environmental crises that cause food insecurity.
Founded in 1945, the Food and Agriculture Organization works to improve nutrition and standard of living in rural communities by increasing agricultural productivity. With 180 member nations, it is the largest autonomous UN agency. It is the FAO’s hope that other African countries, international organizations, and private sector establishments will follow the example set by Equatorial Guinea and donate to the fund. Working on national, regional, and community levels, the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund is bringing Africa closer to achieving food security.
– Kat Henrichs
Photo: Skoll World Forum