Special Report

The Most (and Least) Healthy Countries in the World

The Least Healthy Countries

10. Liberia
> Life expectancy: 62.0
> Infant mortality rate: 51.2 (per 1,000 live births)
> Health expenditure per capita: $98
> GDP per capita: $925

By several measures of health outcomes, Liberia ranks as one of the least healthy countries in the world. For example, there are some 725 maternal deaths during childbirth for every 100,000 live births in the country, more than triple the comparable maternal mortality rate worldwide.

Like most of the least healthy countries, Liberia is poor. The country’s GDP per capita of $925 is lower than the vast majority of countries and nearly 18 times smaller than global GDP per capita. Residents of Liberia also likely struggle to access quality medical care. There is only one doctor for every 100,000 Liberians. In comparison, on average, there is about one doctor for every 1,000 people in the world. Additionally, fewer than 10% of the population has access to electricity.

Source: Thinkstock

9. Chad
> Life expectancy: 52.6
> Infant mortality rate: 75.2 (per 1,000 live births)
> Health expenditure per capita: $79
> GDP per capita: $2,492

Health and health care in Chad are some of the worst in the world. Medical facilities in the African nation are sporadic and understaffed. According to the World Health Organization, there are just a few hundred doctors practicing in a nation of 14.5 million people.

Chad faces multiple ongoing health crises, including severe undernourishment and malnutrition of a significant portion of its population, as well as a clean water shortage. Barely half of Chadians have access to water that has been properly treated. The nation’s life expectancy at birth of just 53 years is 26 years shorter than that of the United States. Infant and maternal mortality rates are each among the five worst of any country.

Source: Olivier Rohas / Flickr

8. Guinea-Bissau
> Life expectancy: 57.0
> Infant mortality rate: 57.8 (per 1,000 live births)
> Health expenditure per capita: $91
> GDP per capita: $1,908

Life expectancy at birth in Guinea-Bissau is just 57 years, or about 15 years below the global average. The country’s residents are particularly vulnerable in early life. About 58 infants for every 1,000 live births die before their first birthday in the West African nation, well above the 31 per 1,000 global infant mortality rate.

The country’s poor health outcomes are partially attributable to the relative lack of reliable utilities and public works infrastructure that residents of more developed countries take for granted. For example, more than 20% of the population lack access to treated water, and only 17% have access to electricity. In the more deprived rural areas, 40% of the population lack clean water, and only 4% have electricity.

Source: Thinkstock

7. Nigeria
> Life expectancy: 53.0
> Infant mortality rate: 66.9 (per 1,000 live births)
> Health expenditure per capita: $217
> GDP per capita: $6,043

Nigeria is Africa’s most populous nation, with nearly 186 million citizens. It also struggles with many of the health problems prevalent around much of the continent. Nigeria has an infant mortality rate that is more than double the world average, and a maternal mortality rate close to four times the global average. About one-third of reported deaths in the country are due to Malaria, HIV, or malnutrition. Due in part to each of these factors, life expectancy at birth in Nigeria is just 53 years, about 19 years below the global average.

Source: Thinkstock

6. Mozambique
> Life expectancy: 57.6
> Infant mortality rate: 53.1 (per 1,000 live births)
> Health expenditure per capita: $79
> GDP per capita: $1,327

Unlike the countries with the healthiest populations, the least healthy countries are largely rural, and Mozambique is no exception. More than two-thirds the country’s population live in rural areas, and rural populations in Mozambique lack access to what would be considered necessities in more developed countries. For example, only 37% of Mozambique’s rural population have access to clean water, and just 6% have access to electricity.

The country’s poor health outcomes, like its life expectancy at birth of just 57.6 years, are also partially due to a lack of access to medical care. The country has one of the lowest concentrations of doctors in the world. Also, per capita private and public health care spending in the country is just $79 a year compared to the global average health care spending of $1,271 per person per year.

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