There are many things about the country of Somalia that make it unique. It is the country located in the most eastern part of Africa, it has been gripped by two decades of conflict and is one of the few regions on Earth where many people still opt to live a largely nomadic lifestyle. Due to these factors, the country also faces unique problems. Life expectancy is a reliable way to track the status of the country’s people, and a variety of points contribute to that number. In the article below, the top 10 facts about life expectancy in Somalia and all the aspects that are influencing them are presented.

Top 10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Somalia

  1. In 2018, the life expectancy for a male was 53.7 years and the life expectancy for a female was 57.3 years, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). In total, life expectancy in the country is 56.29 years. Though still far lower than the global average, life expectancy in Somalia has increased almost every year since 1960.
  2. The leading cause of death in Somalia used to be diarrheal diseases, but incidence rates have fallen by 31.8 percent from 2007 to 2017. Less than 30 percent of Somalis have access to clean water. Because of this, deadly diseases such as cholera are easier to spread and harder to contain, making them common and dangerous. Groups such as the World Health Organization (WHO) are working to provide greater access to clean water and combat water-borne diseases.
  3. According to data from UNICEF, the likelihood of dying before the age of 5 in Somalia is 13.7 percent and are one of the highest in the world. The leading causes of these deaths include pneumonia at 24 percent, diarrhea at 19 percent and measles at 12 percent.
  4. Undernutrition is an underlying factor in one-third of deaths before age 5 in Somalia. According to the Global Hunger Index, around 50.6 percent of the population has insufficient access to calories. However, this number is down from 67.7 percent in the year 2000.
  5. UNICEF reports that one out of every 12 women dies due to pregnancy-related causes. For every 100,000 live births, the maternal mortality rate is 732 deaths. This number is down from 1,210 out of every 100,000 live births in 1990.
  6. Only 30 to 40 percent of children in the country are immunized against the six major childhood diseases. The global average is around 80 percent, so Somalia falls far short from this number. Immunization practices are difficult to implement due to the nomadic lifestyles of many Somali citizens.
  7. In 2015, 68.4 percent of all deaths in the country were due to communicable diseases, or maternal, prenatal or nutritional conditions. This number has been gradually declining and has fallen from 76.8 percent in the year 2000. Conversely, rates of death from non-communicable diseases, such as cancer, have risen from 16.2 percent in 2000 to 21.8 percent in 2015.
  8. Over 20 years of conflict has left more than a million Somalis displaced within their own country, and almost as many in neighboring ones. High food prices, combined with frequent droughts and floods have compounded poverty and continue to threaten livelihoods in the country. The U.N. Refugee Agency is helping to alleviate the situation by assisting with improved access to education, health, livelihood initiatives and community-based projects.
  9. Somalia is developing a strategy that aims to change the rhetoric in the country and ensure that the mothers and children in Somalia can access quality health services equitably all across urban, rural areas in the country.
  10. The amount of money spent on the health of each Somali person is expected to rise from $42 in 2015 to $89 in 2040. The majority of this will come from development assistance for health, as this is a service that is currently lacking in the country.

Though the situation on the ground in Somalia is showing signs of improvement, the country’s life expectancy is still far below the global average. As factors such as disease are combated by immunization efforts and better sanitation, this number will continue to creep upwards. These top 10 facts about life expectancy in Somalia highlight the past, present and future about this issue in this truly unique country.

– Chelsey Crowne

Photo: Flickr