U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

NIH: Fogarty International Center NIH: Fogarty International Center
Advancing Science for Global Health
Advancing Science for Global Health
Home > Global Health Matters May/Jun 2019 > Diseases cost Africa $2.4 trillion per year, WHO reports Print

Diseases cost Africa $2.4 trillion per year, WHO reports

May / June 2019 | Volume 18, Number 3

Nearly 630 million years of healthy life are lost each year in Africa due to disease, taking an economic toll of more than 2.4 trillion international dollars, according to WHO estimates. International dollars are a hypothetical currency unit with the same purchasing power the U.S. dollar has in the United States.

Productivity losses in Africa by disease or condition

Disease or condition Cost in 2015
international $
Infectious and parasitic diseases808,670,913,75827.11%
Maternal conditions45,589,121,2531.53%
Neonatal conditions347,336,223,57311.64%
Nutrition-related conditions110,312,390,4403.70%
Noncommunicable diseases1,107,489,132,37537.12%
Respiratory conditions273,749,492,7079.18%
Total 2,983,187,560,196 100.00%

Note: This chart uses international dollars, a hypothetical unit of currency
that has the same purchasing power that the U.S. dollar has in the
United States.

Source: Table 4 [PDF], A Heavy Burden: The Productivity Cost of Illness in
WHO Regional Office for Africa, 2019

“This is a huge cost to the region and, indeed, for Africa as a whole. Implementing the recommended essential health services to address the main causes of morbidity and premature mortality in the region would almost halve this cost,” according to the WHO Regional Director for Africa, Dr. Matshidiso Moeti.

The study - A Heavy Burden: The Productivity Cost of Illness in Africa - presents results by country, regional economic group and income level. The information is designed to be used as an advocacy tool to engage critical stakeholders in member states, economic communities and partners, said Moeti.

Noncommunicable diseases have overtaken infectious diseases as the largest drain on productivity, accounting for 37% of the disease burden. Other culprits for lost healthy years are communicable and parasitic diseases; maternal, neonatal and nutrition-related conditions; respiratory issues and injuries.

About half, or $796 billion, of this lost productivity value could be avoided in 2030 if the Sustainable Development Goals related to these health conditions are achieved, WHO found.

More Information

To view Adobe PDF files, download current, free accessible plug-ins from Adobe's website.