Special Report

The Most (and Least) Healthy Countries in the World

7. Lesotho
> Life expectancy:
49.3 years
> Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 69.2
> Health expenditure per capita: $297
> Unemployment rate: 26.2%

Like many of the least healthy countries in the world, Lesotho’s population suffers from an extremely high infant mortality rate, which is indicative of both a population’s health, and the quality of health care in the country. For every 1,000 live births in the country, an average of 69.2 end in the death of the newborn, more than 12 times the U.S. rate. More than one-quarter of Lesotho’s workforce is unemployed, worse than in nearly every country in the world. These individuals are much less likely to be able to afford basic health care as well as the basic amenities that allow for healthy living. In fact, nearly one in five Lesotho residents do not have access to clean water, and only 21% of the population has access to electricity.

6. Burundi
> Life expectancy:
56.3 years
> Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 54.1
> Health expenditure per capita: $62
> Unemployment rate: 6.9%

Since 1993, Burundi has attempted to establish a democracy through numerous coups and violent shifts of power. Amidst the instability and suspected human rights violations, the Burundi government has failed to provide adequate health care infrastructure. The country spends just $62 on health care per capita annually, one of the lowest such figures worldwide. By comparison, the health care expenditure for one U.S. resident could fund 148 Burundians. Someone born in Burundi today is expected to live for just 56.3 years, about 23 years less than the 78.8 year U.S. life expectancy. Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, and its people have limited access to vital resources such as water and electricity. Further straining the already insufficient resources is the country’s high birth rate. The 44 live births per 1,000 people annually helps yield the seventh fastest population growth on the planet.

5. Central African Republic
> Life expectancy:
49.9 years
> Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 91.5
> Health expenditure per capita: $24
> Unemployment rate: 7.4%

The Central African Republic spends just $24 per citizen on health care annually, nearly the lowest such figure on the planet. The country may not have the resources to spend much more as it is one of the poorest countries with a $609 GDP per capita. Like in many impoverished African countries, political instability and violent infighting has left health care largely in the hands of international aid organizations — and health outcomes are extremely poor. Nearly one in 10 babies born in CAR die before reaching the age of one, among the worst infant mortality rates worldwide. A Central African is expected to live for just 49.9 years, one a just a handful of countries in the world where life expectancy is lower than 50 years.

4. Chad
> Life expectancy:
51.2 years
> Infant mortality rate (per 1,000 live births): 85.0
> Health expenditure per capita: $74
> Unemployment rate: 7.0%

Although recent oil wealth has helped lift Chad from the extremes of poverty that plague most of Africa, its $2,627 GDP per capita remains one of the lowest in the world. Since the World Bank helped the desert nation construct an oil pipeline in 2003, the share of residents living below the poverty line fell from 62.9% to 38.4% today. However, the Chadian government spends less of its oil profits on its people than initially agreed upon with the World Bank. Chad spends just $74 per capita on health care annually, one of the lowest expenditures of any country. Health outcomes are equally poor. The average Chadian is expected to live for just 51.2 years, about 28 years less than the average American.

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