Leading Causes Of Death In Angola


Angola is located in the southern portion of the African continent on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean. The nation has a long and storied history that includes its former status as a colony of the European nation of Portugal. After gaining its independence in 1975, the African country has endured many periods of violence and political unrest including the ravages suffered during the Angolan Civil War from 1975 to 2002. Despite having an abundance of natural resources such as oil and diamonds the World Fact Book notes that most of Angola’s population experiences a low standard of living. The country also has one of the worst life expediencies in the world with especially high rates of infant death.

The Vital Statistics Of The Population Of Angola

According to a 2014 census the population of Angola numbers at 25,789,024. The ethnic makeup of the nation includes native African groups such as the Ovimbundu, Ambundu, and Bakongo along with small minorities of Mestiço, Chinese, and those citizens of European descent. Children under fifteen years of age make up about 46.6% of Angola’s total population, those aged fifteen to 65 number comprise 50.9% while seniors over 65 represent only 2.5% of the country’s population.

Statistics from the World Health Rankings show that the life expectancy for the average man living in Angola is 50.9 years while for females it’s slightly higher at 54. Despite these sobering numbers it should be noted that life spans for Angolan residents have improved with citizens living longer than at earlier times in the country’s history. In 1960, for example, the average life expectancy for men was only 31.7 years with women living just three years more at 34.7 years of age. Currently, adult mortality rates number at approximately 11.49 per thousand while infant mortality is significantly higher at 38.78 per thousand births.

The reasons for Angola’s poor life expectancy rate are complex and include a variety of factors such as widespread poverty, civil violence, food shortages, political unrest, and lack of adequate medical services. Among the leading causes of death in the country include conditions such as diarrheal disease, lower respiratory infection, malaria, malnutrition, AIDS, meningitis, and ischemic heart disease.

Diarrheal Diseases

The number one cause of death in Angola is the diarrhoeal disease which, according to the World Health Organization, is also the second leading cause of death among kids under the age of five. The disease is fatal due to the fact that it deprives the body of the water and salt necessary to sustain life. This condition is especially dangerous when combined with other serious health problems like malnutrition or HIV infection.

Lower Respiratory Infections

Lower respiratory infections are also responsible for the deaths of a large number of Angolans each year. This condition manifests in two ways; pneumonia and bronchitis. As with a great many conditions young children and the elderly are especially at risk for dying of chronic lung related disorders.


Another significant killer in Angola is malaria which involves parasites which are spread by mosquitoes. Like a great many diseases malaria is not only preventable but also can be cured. According to the World Health Organization children under five are at the greatest risk of contracting malaria, and this segment of the population makes up 70% of deaths related to the disease. Malaria is a particular problem in South African countries because it’s transmitted by bites from infected female mosquitoes and in nations such as Angola these insects have a lengthy life span which gives the parasite sufficient time to develop.

Preterm Birth Complications

Due to its status as a country with a high rate of infant mortality residents of Angola must cope with a number of health care issues associated with pregnancy, childbirth, and early childhood development. Pregnant women in Angola risk preterm birth due to factors such as high blood pressure, infection, diabetes, and multiple pregnancies. Babies born before 37 weeks are at increased risk of having various preterm complications including breathing problems, infection, as well as physical and mental disabilities. The World Health Organization cites low-income populations as well as a lack of proper health care to be major factors which contribute to the deaths of preterm babies. According to statistics from WHO over 60% of preterm births occur on the continents of Africa and southern Asia.


Malnutrition is another leading cause of death in Angola. Poverty and a lack of access to medical resources effect not only a person’s quality of life but also their chances of living a long life. Diseases such as AIDS, meningitis, and Ischemic heart disease are also major threats to the population of Angola as well as a host of other African nations. Despite medical advances and an increased focus on sex education AIDS still claims the lives of large numbers of people around the world. In global terms during 2015 HIV infection resulted in the deaths of approximately 1.1 million people with the majority of cases located in South African countries. The WHO estimates that about two-thirds of new cases of HIV transmission occur in this part of the world.

Health Challenges In Angola

Throughout the majority of its history the population of Angola has faced a great many challenges; chief among them a systemic lack of clean water, poor sanitation practices, an inadequate health care system, as well as high rates of unsafe sexual practices. Despite figures indicating that the nation’s government only allots two per cent of its overall public expenditures to maintaining its health care system in recent years government officials have begun mounting efforts aimed at providing their citizens with adequate medical care. An example of this took place in 2014 when the Angolan Institute for Cancer Control was created. That same year the country began a national measles vaccination program in conjunction with its Strategic Plan for the Elimination of Measles 2014–2020.

At the end of the long Angolan Civil War in 2002, the country was left with a great deal of devastation as the residents were forced to cope with problems caused by a lack of infrastructure and the large scale migration of residents out of rural areas and into the cities. Health care in the African nation also suffered from a lack of trained medical personnel. It’s been estimated that amid the violence and bloodshed of the 27-year long war almost a generation of Angolan residents weren’t able to get an education.

What Steps Are Being Adopted To Improve The Health Of The Population?

A variety of international aid organizations including Unicef and the World Health Organization have played key roles in helping to bring improved health care, awareness, and education to large numbers of Angola’s population. In 2009, as part of its Global Health Initiatives, the US announced the implementation of the Malaria Operational Plan with a focus on halting the spread of malaria, especially among pregnant women. Although efforts are continuing to be made to improve the quality of life of Angolan residents, the African nation still faces a long and difficult road to recovery and the establishment of a well maintained domestic health care system.

RankLeading Cause Of Death, 2012% Of Total Deaths
1Diarrheal Disease 12.5%
2Lower Respiratory Infections 12.2%
3Malaria 6.8%
4Preterm Birth Complications 5.2%
5Protein-Energy Malnutrition 4.9%
6HIV/AIDS 4.6%
7Birth Asphyxia & Birth Trauma 4.5%
9Meningitis 3.1%
10Ischemic Heart Disease 3.0%


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