Low-income and middle-income countries are faced with a dual burden of disease, consisting both of communicable diseases and non-communicable diseases. This paper will examine the burden of disease in Tanzania, a low-income country located in East Africa. Specifically, we will review the leading causes of death and morbidity in Tanzania over the past 10-15 years; discuss the country’s epidemiological transition from mostly communicable to mostly non-communicable diseases; analyze its health system and financing sources; and make an argument for addressing a single health issue in this country.
Burden of Disease: Leading Causes of Death & Morbidity
According to World Health Organization (WHO) data from 2019, the top three causes of death in Tanzania were HIV/AIDS (25%), ischemic heart disease (9%) and lower respiratory infections (6%). The leading cause for morbidity was malaria at 8% followed by lower respiratory infections at 5%. From 2004 to 2014 there was an overall decrease in deaths due to communicable, maternal, neonatal or nutritional conditions by 20%, while deaths due to non-communicable causes increased by 40%. This significant shift demonstrates that Tanzania is undergoing epidemiological transition – moving away from primarily communicable causes towards primarily non-communicable ones.