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Life Expectancy  

The “life expectancy at birth” indicator is part of the set of indicators expressing the Human Development Index (HDI). It measures the number of years a newborn infant would live, on average, if prevailing patterns of mortality at the time of its birth were to stay the same throughout its life (UNDP 2009).

Children of the basin, Huambo.
Source: Tump 2007
( click to enlarge )

Life Expectancy in Angola

In 2007, the average life expectancy in Angola was 46.5 years only, one of the lowest in international comparison (rank 172 of 182). The risk of not surviving to the age of 40 was 38.5 % (UNDP 2009).

The World Bank provides a time series of life expectancy data for 1990 to 2008. These data suggest that life expectancy in Angola has slightly increased from 42 (in 1990) to 47 years (in 2008).

Life Expectancy Angola

Year

1990

1995

2000

2005

2008

Life expectancy (years)

42

43

44

46

47

Source: World Bank website 2010a

The main reason for this low life expectancy was the devastating impact of 27 years of civil war and widespread poverty.

The war has left much of the country’s infrastructure damaged or undeveloped, and land mines still scar the countryside. A large proportion of the population has no access to basic social services and the territorial coverage of health facilities and immunisation very limited, leading to a high prevalence of infectious diseases, especially malaria as well as diseases transmitted by water contact (GoA/UNDP 2005).

A further reason for the low level of life expectancy in Angola is poverty. More than half of the country’s population is living on less than $ 1.25 per day and capita and more than 70 % of the population on less than $ 2 day and capita (UNDP 2009). These reference lines are defined as poverty thresholds by the World Bank (World Bank website 2010b).

Life Expectancy in Namibia

A time series provided by the World Bank shows a dramatic decline in life expectancy in Namibia, from 62 years in 1990 to 53 years in 2008. This can be linked to the significant increase in HIV prevalence indicated by World Bank data (World Bank website 2010a). The low level of life expectancy can also be related to poverty, which remains widespread: nearly half of the Namibian population live on less than $ 1.25 per day and capita and nearly two thirds of the population on less than $ 2 per day and capita (UNDP 2009).

Life Expectancy Namibia

Year

1990

1995

2000

2005

2008

Life expectancy (years)

62

60

54

52

53

Source: World Bank website 2010a

Child Mortality

As already indicated above, the HDI indicator “live expectancy” is influenced by different factors. Two major factors are child mortality and HIV prevalence, which can again be expressed as indicators in themselves. Although they are not directly considered in the HDI, these two indicators are described below due to their importance within the context of the Millennium Development Goals.

The child mortality rate is the probability that a newborn baby will die before reaching the age of five. The indicator is expressed as a number per 1 000 live births (World Bank website 2010c).

Annually, nearly 9 million children die worldwide before they reach their fifth birthday, and for every child that dies there are millions more living in the vicious cycle of poverty, malnutrition and disease. Developing countries account for 99 % of child mortality deaths, and half of those are in sub-Saharan Africa, where child mortality rates are the highest worldwide with 144 deaths per 1 000 live births (UNICEF website 2010a).

Child Mortality in Angola

Child mortality in Angola has always been a problem with numbers well above the regional average of sub-Saharan Africa. According to UNICEF data, limited progress has been made since 1990 when 260 children out of 1 000 died before age five compared to 220 in 2008 (UNICEF website 2010b).

Child Mortality Angola

Year

1990

1995

2000

2005

2008

Angola

260

251

239

227

220

Sub-Saharan Africa

184

180

166

152

144

Source: UNICEF website 2010a&b

However, results of a government survey released in August 2010 suggest that Angola has made significant strides in recent years, with a current mortality rate of 195 per 1 000 live births (UNICEF website 2010c).

In order to accelerate the reduction of maternal and infant mortality, the government of Angola has launched a campaign (CARMMA) in 2010. The focus is on strengthening health care provision on the municipal level and developing education campaigns for mothers and children.

Child Mortality in Namibia

From 1990 to 2008, child mortality in Namibia has been well below the regional average of sub-Saharan Africa. Despite the declining life expectancy over the same period, Namibia has achieved progress in reducing child mortality rates. UNICEF data suggest that at present 42 out of every 1 000 children born in Namibia die prematurely before they reach five years of age.

Child Mortality Namibia

Year

1990

1995

2000

2005

2008

Namibia

72

71

77

58

42

Sub-Saharan Africa

184

180

166

152

144

Source: UNICEF website 2010a&b

HIV Prevalence

The “prevalence of HIV” indicator refers to the percentage of people aged 15-49 who are infected with HIV.

As HIV continues to wreak havoc on the population of southern Africa, its indirect effects are also taking a toll on the region. People living with HIV have an increased susceptibility to illness and are therefore more vulnerable. People living in impoverished conditions are even more exposed as malnourishment, poor sanitation, and lack of assess to safe water further increase vulnerability.

HIV Prevalence in Angola

Angola’s HIV infection rates among people aged 15-49 remain on a comparatively low level, though having increased from 1.6 % (2001) to 2.1 % (2007). The estimated number of deaths due to AIDS has also increased in this period. According to UNAIDS, anti-retroviral therapy coverage has improved, although, only one in four people in need has access to adequate treatment (UNAIDS 2008c).

HIV Prevalence in Namibia

A comparison of the prevalence of HIV in 2001 and 2007 illustrates the grave situation in Namibia. During this period, the estimated HIV prevalence has continued to increase from 14.6 % to 15.3 %. At the same time, the number of annual deaths due to AIDS has declined, which points to the positive effects of improvements in the country’s health sector, such as the anti-retroviral therapy programme initiated in 2003, which covered 88 % of the population in 2007 (UNAIDS 2008a, b).

 

 



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