The 10 Leading Causes Of Death In Cameroon

Lack of funding of hospitals in Cameroon contributes to the country's high death rate from health complcations.
Lack of funding of hospitals in Cameroon contributes to the country's high death rate from health complcations.

Cameroon is a country located at the junction of West and Central Africa. It is home to around 23 million people. Cameroon is one of the world's poorest nations and has one of the world's highest death rates. One of the most significant issues that increases the Cameroonian death rate is the fact that close to 40% of the residents lack access to clean water. Data from the World Factbook indicates that the death rate in Cameroon as of 2017 was 9.6 out of every 1000 people. The death rate was the lowest in the country since 2000 when it was at 11.89 per 1000 people. The death rate peaked at 15.4 per 1000 people in 2005. In 2015 the Cameroonian life expectancy was estimated at 55.93 years.


According to the World Health Organization, HIV is the biggest cause of death in Cameroon as it accounts for 13% of the nation's total deaths. The HIV prevalence rate in Cameroon is one of the highest in Western and Central Africa as it ranks second in the region. According to data from UNAIDS, in 2016 at least 22,000 people were infected with the virus while close to 29,000 individuals died due to complications arising from AIDS. The precise number of people living with HIV in Cameroon is unknown although estimates place it at more than 500,000. Managing the condition is a significant challenge to Cameroonians as less than 45% of the patients had access to antiretroviral therapy. The transmission of the virus from the mother to the child led to the infection of close to 4,000 children.

Lower Respiratory Infection Diseases

Data from the World Health Organization indicates that lower respiratory infections are the second major cause of death in Cameroon. The Borgen Project states that lower respiratory infections are responsible for close to 29,000 deaths every year in Cameroon. Some of the lower respiratory infections that affect Cameroonians include influenza and pneumonia which are ordinarily treatable if those infected receive adequate medical attention. However, insufficient medical facilities make the diseases fatal to large numbers of affected Cameroonians.

Diarrheal Diseases

Diarrheal diseases are, according to the world health organization, the third highest cause of death in Cameroon as they account for 6% of the deaths in the country. The most vulnerable are children as the ministry of health in Cameroon estimates that more than half of all childhood deaths arise from diarrhea. Among Cameroonian children below the age of 5, diarrhea is ranked fourth among the causes of death.


The world health organization indicates that Cameroon is ranked 30th globally in terms of malaria fatalities which in the nation stands at 29.11 deaths per 100,000 people. The disease has a high infection rate in some areas such as the Bénoué River Valley as well as along the coast. Visitors to the nation are regularly advised to carry medication for malaria.


In most sub-Saharan nations, strokes are the leading neurological cause of hospitalization. The population of Cameroon is significantly affected by strokes which have led to 5% of the nation's total deaths. In Cameroon strokes also affected children with the National Center for Biotechnology Information indicating that 1.85 out of every 1,000 cases of children hospitalized were due to strokes. The data also suggests that the number of children suffering from strokes increased from 1985 to 1990.

Ischemic Heart Disease

Like many developing countries, Cameroon is facing an increased risk of heart diseases which have resulted in 4% of the deaths in the nation. BioMed Central conducted research in Cameroon to determine the awareness of cardiovascular diseases among the population and found that 52.5% of the population lacked sufficient knowledge. Inadequate knowledge exposes the community to a significant risk of the illnesses leading to fatalities.

Birth Asphyxia & Birth Trauma

3% of the deaths in Cameroon are caused by birth asphyxia and birth trauma which places it 7th on the causes of death in the country. The conditions affect children at birth and contribute significantly to the infant mortality in the country.


Cameroon is ranked 19th in deaths caused by meningitis globally as it causes 3% of the total fatalities in Cameroon. Cameroon is one of the countries in a region referred to as the African Meningitis Belt along with other nations such as Chad. Nations in the area are at a higher risk of meningitis.

Preterm Birth Complications

Another significant cause of death is preterm birth complications which result in 3% of the deaths in Cameroon according to the World Health Organization. Due to the high rate of deaths caused by the complications, Cameroon is ranked 17th in the world.


The 10th highest cause of death in Cameroon is tuberculosis and according to the World Health Organization causes about 3% of Cameroon's death. Since 2006, the number of tuberculosis cases in Cameroon has significantly declined. In 2016, there were reported incidences of 203 per 100,000 people in the country. Cameroon is ranked 30th in the world in terms of deaths caused by tuberculosis.

Challenges Facing Healthcare in Cameroon

The Cameroonian healthcare system faces huge challenges, the main one being insufficient funds. Many hospitals in Cameroon lack adequate equipment and medical personnel to attend to the sick. The poorer members of Cameroon's society are the ones who suffer the most from the inadequate healthcare in the country. Many Cameroonian doctors migrate to other nations where they are better remunerated for their services. The government of Cameroon is working on some projects to improve the medical sector in the country. The government is collaborating with religious institutions as well as the private sector to develop the sector and offer better services to the citizens.

The 10 Leading Causes Of Death In Cameroon

RankCausePercentage of total deaths
2Lower Respiratory Infections12%
3Diarrheal Diseases6%
6Ischemic Heart Disease4%
7Birth Asphyxia & Birth Trauma3%
9Preterm Birth Complications3%

More in World Facts