Life Expectancy in Niger

Life expectancy rates measure the overall mortality of a country in a given year, a statistic affected by countries’ poverty rates. There is a correlation between poor health and poverty that implies those in better socioeconomic classes will live longer, healthier lives than those in lower classes. With a poverty rate of approximately 44.1 percent in 2017, Niger, a landlocked country in Africa also has one of the lowest life expectancy rates in the world. Below are 10 facts about life expectancy in Niger, which explain the challenges the government faces to improve quality of life and the efforts being taken to prevent premature deaths.

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Niger

  1. In 2016, the global life expectancy rate was 72.0 years old and on average, women were expected to live to 74.2 years old while the rate for men was slightly lower at 69.8 years old. A 2018 estimate by the CIA estimates the average life expectancy rate in Niger was 56.3 years old. The rate for women was 57.7 years while men on average lived until 55.0 years old.
  2. One of the biggest factors affecting Niger’s stagnant poverty rates is their increasingly growing population rate. With a 3.16 percent growth rate, Niger has the seventh fastest-growing population in the world. The people of Niger lack adequate resources to feed and shelter the constantly increasing population only exacerbating the mortality rate.
  3. In 2017, the UN ranked Niger as the second least developed country in the world due to their reliance on agriculture. The majority of the population, 87 percent, depends on agriculture including subsidized farming and domestic livestock as their primary means of income. Nearly half of the population of Niger falls below the poverty line a consequence of the limited job opportunities and lack of industry.
  4. In 2017, Niger ranked 189th out of 189 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index (HDI), a scale that ranks countries based on three factors: health, knowledge and quality of life. The health factor is determined by the life expectancy at birth while knowledge is determined by the average rate of schooling for citizens and quality of life is measured by the gross national income. Although this index does not account for poverty levels, socioeconomic inequality or human security, Niger’s low ranking depicts a country struggling with healthcare, education and economic prosperity.
  5. The top three leading causes of death in Niger in 2017 were malaria, diarrheal diseases and lower respiratory infections. Comparatively, in the United States, the leading causes of death are heart disease, cancer and accidents. The leading causes of death in the United States are noncontagious and in the case of accidentals, unavoidable. However, both malaria and diarrheal diseases are treatable and communicable conditions that could be prevented with proper healthcare.
  6. Located between three deserts, Niger is one of the hottest countries in the world with a very dry climate. This extreme climate creates inconsistent rainfall patterns, which leads to long periods of drought and widespread famine. Groundwater, the only option for clean water, is often contaminated in wells or kilometers away. As a result, only 56 percent of the population has access to drinking water while 13 percent of the population uses proper sanitation practices.
  7. The people of Niger lack education about proper health practices with 71 percent of people practicing open defecation while 17 million people do not have a proper toilet. The lack of proper disposal for fecal matter affects access to clean drinking water by contaminating hand-dug wells meant to provide clean water to entire villages. This improper sanitation, contaminated water and insufficient hygiene contribute to diarrhea-associated deaths in Niger.
  8. In partnership with European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO), UNICEF Niger successfully advocated for the expansion of the national seasonal malaria chemoprevention campaign and the inclusion of malnutrition screening in the country. In 2016, the malaria chemoprevention campaign helped 2.23 million children between three and 59 months suffering from malaria. Also, the incorporation of malnutrition screening contributed to an 11 percent decrease in the number of children with severe acute malnutrition in 2016.
  9. Doctors Without Borders has recognized the need for malaria and malnutrition care in Niger, especially during peak drought seasons. In 2018, Doctors Without Borders treated 173,200 patients for malaria, placed 42,300 people into feeding treatment centers and admitted 86,300 people to hospitals for malaria and malnutrition treatment.
  10. A UNICEF funded branch of the water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) program is active in Niger and fighting to increase access to clean water and sanitation facilities to combat open defecation and poor hygiene. Currently, UNICEF is modeling a WASH-approach in 14 municipalities within three regions of Niger with the intent of opening new facilities, strengthening water pipe systems and managing water supply networks.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Niger depict a country attempting to improve the quality of life for its people despite social and environmental challenges. Slowly, with help from humanitarian organizations and nonprofits, the life expectancy in Niger will continue to improve.

Hayley Jellison
Photo: Flickr


Top 10 Causes of Death in Developing Countries
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

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Malaria
    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.
  8. Tuberculosis
    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.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

Photo: Flickr