Botswana: Life Expectancy, Death Rate, Leading Causes of Death

Access to health care can sometimes be a struggle in Botswana.
Access to health care can sometimes be a struggle in Botswana.

Botswana is located in the southern tip of Africa, surrounded only by land on all of its borders. Currently, the country has a population of 2,004,000. The life expectancy in Botswana is 63.6 for males and 68.4 for females. The death rate in Botswana is estimated at 9.5 per 1,000 people. Botswana is in the earliest stages of economic development and has many of the health problems associated with its economic condition. This article takes a look at the leading causes of death here as well as the healthcare system.

Leading Causes of Death


The number 1 killer of the residents of Botswana is HIV/AIDS. This disease is responsible for 32% of all deaths annually. People living with HIV/AIDS currently number 350,000, roughly 22.2% of the population. This prevalence is the third highest in the world. Given the government’s response to this pandemic, estimates suggest that 78% of all infected individuals are taking antiretroviral medications. While treatment efforts are significant, prevention programs are still lacking.


The second leading cause of death is malaria which claims 7% of the total deaths every year. Malaria is spread by infected female mosquitoes which transmit the parasite to humans through biting. P. falciparum is the deadliest form of malaria and causes chills, headache, vomiting, and fever during early onset. Infections occur more frequently in areas of extreme poverty due to a number of reasons including poor home construction which allows mosquitoes to enter, inability to buy mosquito nets, lack of access to healthcare centers for treatment. Malnutrition in areas of extreme poverty also increases the risk of contracting the parasite because of a weakened immune system.


Tuberculosis is the next most common cause of death in Botswana; 6% of all deaths are attributed to this disease. TB is a contagious bacterial infection that typically infects the lungs although it can infect other body parts. Symptoms include chronic cough, weight loss, fever, and blood in the sputum. While this disease has been essentially eradicated in the developed world, it continues to kill people in developing countries. Botswana's TB rates are one of the highest rates of TB in the world, due to its high occurrence of HIV/AIDS. Once the immune system is significantly weakened, TB is able to take over resulting in death.

A complete list of the other leading causes of death in Botswana can be found below.

Health Care In Botswana

Botswana provides universal health insurance to all of its citizens which gives them access to the public healthcare system. Private hospitals, clinics and doctors’ offices are also available though the cost is prohibitive to many. General checkups are free of charge in the public facilities for individuals under the age of 5 and over the age of 65. The problem is that with so many rural inhabitants, reaching health facilities for preventative care is difficult if not impossible. Additionally, many people may be unaware of what programs and benefits are available to them. If an individual can reach a health clinic, they are likely met with a lack of medical professionals, supplies, and equipment due to insufficient government resources.

Leading Causes Of Death In Botswana

RankCause % Of Death
1HIV 32%
2Malaria 7%
3TB 6%
4Diarrheal Diseases 4%
5Cancer 4%
6Pre-Term Birth Complications 2%
7Ischemic Heart Disease 2%
8Stroke 2%
10Road Injuries2%

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