The 15 unhealthiest countries in the world

Leah Rocketto

The 2018 Global Competitiveness Index was released worldwide Tuesday evening. The report, which offers insights into economies' readiness for the future, evaluated the competitiveness of 140 economies through 98 indicators organised into 12 pillars.

One of those pillars is health. According to the report, this is an important factor in determining a country's competitiveness, as "healthier individuals have more physical and mental capabilities, are more productive and creative, and tend to invest more in education as life expectancy increases."

Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and Spain tied as the four healthiest countries, based on the high health-adjusted life expectancy (HALE) of their residents.

Below are the 15 least healthy countries, based off the report.

South Africa

Statistics South Africa released a report on the country's mortality and causes of death in 2016. That year, the most common cause of natural death in South Africa were tuberculosis, diabetes,heart disease, cerebrovascular diseases, and HIV.


The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the most common cause of death in Mali is malaria, followed by lower respiratory infections and diarrheal diseases.


According to the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Burundi lacks adequate infrastructure and human resources to tend to urgent health issues, like HIV and malnutrition.

Democratic Republic of Congo

The CDC reports that diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory infections, and malaria are the most common causes of death in Congo.

Burkina Faso

The most common causes of death in Burkina Faso are lower respiratory infections and malaria, according to the CDC.


A 2014 report from the Pan African Medical Journal reports that the biggest barriers to improving health in Guinea include lack of trauma care facilities, poor medical training, and people being unreceptive to care.


According to the CDC, HIV and tuberculosis are the most common causes of death in Malawi.


A 2014 report from the International Journal for Equity in Health assessed the challenges faced by the healthcare workers across Cameroon. The report found that the lack of health personnel and uneven distribution of caregivers across the country were the main issues. The country aims to achieve universal health coverage by 2035, which should help to increase life expectancy.

Côte d'Ivorie

USAID reports that Côte d'Ivoire has the highest rate of HIV/AIDS of any West African country. It is also the leading cause of death for men and the second largest cause of death among women.


The health issues in Zimbabwe are likely the result of sparse health care workers. According to the Global Health Workforce Alliance, there are 1.6 physicians and 7.2 nurses for every 10,000 people in the country, making it difficult for people to receive proper care.


The World Health Organisation (WHO) reports that 30% of the country is not able to access health services. Additionally, the poverty and lack of nutrients result in multiple health issues across all ages and sexes.


Although life expectancy in Chad has increased over the past decade, there are still major health issues that plague the country, including diarrheal diseases, lower respiratory infections, and HIV/AIDS.

Sierra Leone

The main causes of death in Sierra Lione are malaria, lower respiratory infections, and malnutrition, according to the CDC.


There are several reasons for the health issues in Zambia. To start, a report from the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) notes there is a high prevalence of communicable diseases - the most common being HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria. Secondly, there is minimal access to safe water and sanitation, which contributes to health issues.


Deemed the unhealthiest country in the world, the CDC reports that the leading causes of death in Lesotho include HIV/AIDS, cardiovascular diseases, and diarrheal diseases.


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