Cover Image
close this bookSafe Blood in Developing Countries - The Lessons from Uganda (EC, 1995, 151 p.)
close this folderSection Two - Background: Uganda's history, health, and the HIV/AIDS epidemic
close this folderChapter Two - Uganda's political and physical health: A brief history
View the documentA. The political background
View the documentB. The health of the nation
View the documentC. Safe and unsafe blood in Uganda

B. The health of the nation

Over half of Uganda's 17 million population, even under peacetime conditions, still falls below a basic poverty line. Life expectancy, at 47 years for men and 50 for women, is one of the lowest in the world. The country's crude death rate, at 20 per 1,000, is about twice the level of the average low-income country, for example, neighbouring Kenya. Over half of hospital deaths are children, the main killers being malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea and malnutrition. Nearly half the children under 5 years of age suffer from malnutrition. For adults, the main causes of death are AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria.


Child receiving blood transfusion

'The leading causes of death are all preventable, although with varying degrees of difficulty,' comments the World Bank. One difficulty is the inadequate number of nurses and doctors - see the table. There are only around 90 hospitals for the whole country. Another problem is the health budget. Total health spending in Uganda, public and private added together, is about US$ 6 per head of population, which is a half to a third of what sub-Saharan countries in general spend, and half of what is considered necessary to provide a basic essential health service in a low-income country. Uganda's health problems are compounded by a high fertility rate and so a high population growth rate. But the toll this exacts on Uganda's mothers is high, with 550 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births, about twelve times the rate in developed countries. On top of all this came 'slim disease,' as Ugandans graphically describe the AIDS epidemic which hit the country.