Africa is winning the fight against polio, having gone an entire year without a single recorded case (as of August 2015). The continent has never gone so long without such a report.

Unfortunately, there has been less progress in tackling many other diseases across Africa, as the chart below shows. It is based on 2012 data taken from the World Health Organisation (WHO), and shows deaths per 100,000 people over the age of five.


HIV/Aids is the biggest killer in Africa by a large margin, with 122 deaths per 100,000 people in 2012. This is nearly double the deaths from diarrhoeal diseases, which caused the second-largest number of deaths. While overall communicable diseases account for the majority of deaths, a number of non-communicable diseases feature on the list – including ischaemic heart disease (hardening of the arteries) in fourth place, diabetes in seventh and cirrhosis of the liver in ninth.

The data in this piece is taken from the World Health Organisation’s Global Health Observatory Data Repository.

Have you read?
5 global health trends you can’t ignore
Can we give healthcare to 9 million people?
The mega-trends shaping Africa’s future

To keep up with the Agenda subscribe to our weekly newsletter.

Author: Paul Muggeridge is Head of Content at Formative Content. 

Image: A health worker draws a dosage of vaccine into a syringe during a house call in the village of Kandor outside the town of Bo in the southeast region of the West African country May 24, 2011. REUTERS/Simon Akam