Benin's Health Care
The Republic of Benin is located in the western region of the African continent. The sub-Saharan country possesses a tropical climate and a population of approximately 12 million people. Benin’s economy highly relies on agriculture. Its production of cotton provides 40% of Benin’s GDP and 80% of its exports. Unfortunately, Benin is an impoverished nation with about one-third of the population living beneath the international poverty line. The citizens of Benin also experience many different issues regarding the handling of healthcare in Benin.

Lack of Resources

As of now, the government spends only 3.3% of the GDP on services relating to healthcare in Benin. The average life expectancy is around 60 years old. However, the infant mortality rate stands at 63 deaths per 1,000 births, while the maternal mortality rate stands at 500 deaths per 100,000 births.

Despite Benin’s relatively large size (about 110,000 square kilometers), there are only four hospitals within the national borders. A survey conducted in 1999 reported that for every 1,000 patients who arrived at hospitals to receive treatment, only 0.1 doctors and 0.2 beds were available. As a result, one of the primary methods to improve Benin’s health care is to hire and train more doctors.


The Joint United Nations Program for HIV/AIDS states that anywhere from 38,000 and 120,000 individuals in Benin may be infected with the HIV/AIDS virus. These figures are comparatively lower than in other African countries, but the virus is still spreading among young adults. Waterborne diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera and meningitis have high risks and rates of infection. Typhoid Fever poses a highly dangerous threat in Benin, as only 23% of the population has access to adequate sanitation services. Further efforts need to emerge to improve the quality of drinking water. Until then, the citizens of Benin have to rely on boiling their water to remove bacteria.

Natural Disasters

In 2010, Benin experienced the worst series of flooding that it had seen in decades. The floods affected over 800,000 people and wiped away entire villages. Due to the lack of water clean-up and filtration, people were consuming water that overflowing latrines had contaminated. As a result, reports to hospitals determined that there were nearly 800 new cases of cholera. The disaster prompted the U.N. refugee agency to activate an emergency plan to help those the floods displaced.


Despite Benin’s current progress in healthcare, child malnutrition still remains a critical marker of poverty and improper healthcare. Assumptions have also determined that over 25% of infants and children younger than 5-years-old suffer or die from malnutrition. However, the government of Benin has recently developed an innovative plan for improving child nutrition.

The new Early Years Nutrition and Child Development Project (EYNCDP) is the first step in a series of three operations that aim toward improving the delivery and quality of selected health and nutrition interventions throughout the country. This first project focuses on integrating early stimulation and learning, primary school feeding programs and policy improvement.

Nonprofit Aid

There is further hope toward improving the lives of the people in Benin. Since 1995, the nonprofit organization CARE has been working on projects to help families in Benin receive improved income and education. For example, CARE has organized programs to combat gender-based violence, provide access to better nutrition and improve Benin’s healthcare.

It also provides aid to communities plagued with frequent flooding. Additionally, CARE grants further assistance by helping local farmers in rural communities improve their income via loan associations. By aiding farmers with their loans and savings, CARE ensures that their families are able to make proper investments, and in turn, can buy better livestock, seeds and farming equipment.

Projects like CARE can go a long way to provide aid to people living in difficult conditions like those in Benin. Through its efforts to aid communities experiencing flooding, healthcare in Benin should improve.

Aditya Daita
Photo: Pixabay

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Benin
Benin is a small country located in the tropical regions of Western Africa. Having established its independence from its former colonial power France in 1960, Benin remains one of the most impoverished counties in the world. Poverty coupled with several other factors has greatly affected the people of Benin in many harmful ways — here are ten facts about life expectancy in Benin.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Benin

  1. The average woman in Benin has a life expectancy of 62.4, and the average man has a life expectancy of 59.7, giving Benin an overall average life expectancy of 61.1. With this average life expectancy, Benin ranks number 163 in the world in terms of life expectancy. The country’s life expectancy has seen a consistently steady increase over the last several decades. Since the end of colonialism in the early 1960s, the country’s average lifespan has gone from 40 years in the 1950s to 61 years in 2019.
  2. Benin’s population is disproportionately affected by several diseases commonly known as “a disease of poverty.” Some of these diseases include malaria (9 percent of all deaths), lower respiratory infections (13 percent of all deaths) and diarrheal diseases (5 percent of all deaths). While many diseases still take a toll on the Benin population, certain tropical diseases that have in the past caused a high number of deaths, such as yellow fever and meningitis, have been either completely erased or greatly reduced, largely as a result of immunization programs in urban areas.
  3. The population of Benin has a very young average age. Persons under the age of 25 accounts for 63 percent of the population. This is common in developing countries since people who possess less wealth tend to have more children on average. Younger generations are expected to live significantly longer than previous generations as the results of steady progress in healthcare and social support systems within the country.
  4. Just like many African countries, there are a limited number of physicians in Benin. Benin only has a 0.15 physicians per 1000 people. While this is relatively high compared to other African countries Niger or Liberia, this ratio still lags well behind most of the Western world.
  5. It is estimated that one percent of adults in Benin, or 67,000 people, have HIV/AIDS. About 2,161 of people with HIV in Benin die every year of the disease (2 percent of all deaths each year), making it the thirteenth most common cause of death in Benin. While HIV is certainly a problem in Benin, its prevalence has been on the decline in recent decades. One study conducted in the 2000s saw a steady decline of the disease both in and around Cotonou; this decline is largely the result of integrated HIV intervention programs designed for sex workers (a population disproportionately affected by the disease). The effectiveness of these programs has led to implementation in other cities in Benin.
  6. Benin has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world. Currently, the infant mortality rate in Benin is 52.8 deaths per 1000 births. This places Benin at number 23 in the world ranking of infant mortality rates.
  7. About 4.6 percent of Benin’s GDP is allocated to healthcare. This percentage is significantly lower than most other countries, as Benin ranked 154th in the global ranking of total GDP spent on health expenditure.
  8. Benin has predominantly relied on agriculture as its primary food security, both currently and historically. Several factors including poor soil and lack of modern agricultural technology have hindered agricultural progress in the country and significantly lowered the country’s food security. In fact, one-third of the country’s population lacks food security. The toll of malnutrition has always most impacted Benin’s youth, with 45 percent of children under five affected by chronic malnutrition.
  9. There are large discrepancies related to healthcare access and culture between urban and rural areas within Benin. Rural areas lack the social service infrastructures (such as hospitals and pharmacies) present in urban areas. People in urban areas also benefit from immunization campaigns that provide free vaccinations, and maternity clinics that provide free immunizations for newborn infants. This lack of access to basic healthcare services in rural areas has lead to a higher rate of premature death amongst the rural population in comparison to the urban population.
  10. In recent years, the government of Benin has made several attempts to address the health problems that are leading to a shortened lifespan in its population. The government of Benin has worked with foreign aid organizations to improve the social support systems and overall health of Benin’s population. One recent effort was done with the World Bank which provided Benin with $50 million to support programs related to early childhood development and nutrition.

Continued Progress and Increased Longevity

Over the past several decades Benin has made significant progress in extending the longevity of its population. The expansion of healthcare systems and programs in Benin’s urban areas have extended the average lifespan of the average person in Benin a full 37 years since the colonial era.

These 10 facts about life expectancy display a fair amount of progress in Benin’s longevity efforts, but there is still work to be done. The nation must complement such improvement with development in the overall health and living conditions, as well as work on the disparities between the rural and urban regions of the country.

– Randall Costa
Photo: World Bank