Health and Medical

The health sector in Commonwealth countries


Life expectancy in Commonwealth countries ranges from 82 in Australia and Singapore, down to just 42 in Sierra Leone (2013).

The Commonwealth countries with the highest birth rate per 1,000 are Uganda and Zambia at 43, with the lowest being Malta with nine (UNICEF, 2013).

The country with the highest population growth between 1990 and 2014 is Uganda at 3.3%, while the country with the lowest population growth is St Vincent and the Grenadines with 0.07% (World Bank).

In 2014, 11 countries were reported to have 100% access to clean water, while 16 countries fell below 90%. In 22 Commonwealth countries, less than 90% of the population have access to adequate sanitation facilities and in at least 16 countries, this figure is less than 50%.

Non-communicable diseases such as diabetes, cancer, chronic respiratory diseases and cardiovascular diseases impact all regions of the Commonwealth. Diabetes alone affects 65 million Commonwealth citizens. The worst affected member state is Nauru, with 31% of the adult population affected by the disease. The impact of cancerous diseases in the Commonwealth is proportionately less than for the rest of the world. The Commonwealth has around 30% of the world’s population but accounts for just 19% of worldwide cancer deaths. Detection mechanisms for cancers are much more advanced in the developed part of the Commonwealth, with developing countries carrying the greater burden of cancer-related mortality.

HIV prevalence among adults of 15–49 years is highest in Swaziland, 27.7%, and reportedly lowest in Bangladesh, Fiji, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka (World Bank, 2014). AIDS is a leading cause of death, taking the lives of 1.2 million Commonwealth citizens a year (2009). Commonwealth countries represent just under a third of the world’s population, but carry a disproportionate 60% of the world’s HIV/AIDS current burden of more than 40 million infected people.

Vector-borne diseases are major health issues in Commonwealth Africa and South Asia. Malaria, particularly, continues to threaten the lives of mainly pregnant women and children under five years of age. In the poorest countries, where malaria takes its highest toll, this is due to lack of finance and prevention mechanisms.

Health provision

Malta has the highest number of medical doctors per capita at around 350 for every 100,000 people. India, however, has the highest number overall, with more than 936,488 (2014) operating in the country.

Mauritius has the highest concentration of pharmaceutical personnel in the Commonwealth at 116 for every 100,000 people.

The country with the largest public spending on health, according to the World Bank, is Tuvalu at 20% of GDP, while Bangladesh, India, Nigeria, Pakistan and Sri Lanka are the Commonwealth countries with the lowest, all at 1% (2013).

Select a Country:
Antigua and Barbuda Australia The Bahamas
Bangladesh Barbados Belize
Botswana Brunei Darussalam Cameroon
Canada Cyprus Dominica
Fiji Ghana Grenada
Guyana India Jamaica
Kenya Kiribati Lesotho
Malawi Malaysia Malta
Mauritius Mozambique Namibia
Nauru New Zealand Nigeria
Pakistan Papua New Guinea Rwanda
Saint Lucia Samoa Seychelles
Sierra Leone Singapore Solomon Islands
South Africa Sri Lanka St Kitts and Nevis
St Vincent and The Grenadines Swaziland Tonga
Trinidad and Tobago Tuvalu Uganda
United Kingdom United Republic of Tanzania Vanuatu