Country Listing

Uganda Table of Contents




Distribution of food to mothers and children in Kabong
Courtesy World Bank Photo Library

In 1989 Uganda's estimated life expectancy, crude death rate, and infant mortality represented significant improvements over those of the 1960s, but local officials also believed the 1980s estimates were optimistic, based on incomplete reports. Health services and record keeping deteriorated during the 1970s and early 1980s, when many deaths resulted from government neglect, violence, and civil war.

In 1989 officials estimated that measles, respiratory tract infections, and gastroenteritis caused one-half of all deaths attributed to illness. Other fatal illnesses included anemia, tetanus, and whooping cough, but some people also died of malnutrition. An estimated 20 percent of all deaths were caused by diseases that were not well known among international health officials. Ugandan health workers were especially concerned about infant mortality, most often caused by low birth weight, premature birth, or neonatal tetanus. Childhood diseases such as measles, gastroenteritis, malaria, and respiratory tract infections also claimed many lives. Malaria and tuberculosis caused an increasing number of deaths among adults during the 1980s.

Certain forms of cancer were common in Uganda before they were first systematically studied in any country. Burkitt's lymphoma, which caused a large number of cancer deaths in children across Africa, was first described in Uganda in 1958. This malignancy was thought to be related to the incidence of malaria and possibly to food storage practices that allowed the growth of carcinogenic strains of bacteria or molds in stored grain or peanuts. Other research, although inconclusive, suggested that the spread of certain cancers might be related to parasites or other insect-borne diseases.

Data as of December 1990