Life expectancy at birth is estimated to be 64 years in 2017 – among the lowest in the world.
Namibia launched a National Health Extension Programme in 2012 deployment 1,800 (2015) of a total ceiling of 4,800 health extension workers trained for six months in community health activities including first aid, health promotion for disease prevention, nutritional assessment and counseling, water sanitation and hygiene practices, HIV testing and community-based antiretroviral treatment.
Namibia faces non-communicable disease burden. The Demographic and Health Survey (2013) summarizes findings on elevated blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes and obesity:
Among eligible respondents age 35–64, more than 4 in 10 women (44 percent) and men (45 percent) have elevated blood pressure or are currently taking medicine to lower their blood pressure.
Forty-nine percent of women and 61 percent of men are not aware that they have elevated blood pressure. Forty-three percent of women and 34 percent of men with hypertension are taking medication for their condition.
Only 29 percent of women and 20 percent of men with hypertension are taking medication and have their blood pressure under control.
Six percent of women and 7 percent of men are diabetic; that is, they have elevated fasting plasma glucose values or report that they are taking diabetes medication. An additional 7 percent of women and 6 percent of men are prediabetic.
Sixty-seven percent of women and 74 percent of men with diabetes are taking medication to lower their blood glucose.
Women and men with a higher-than-normal body mass index (25.0 or higher) are more likely to have elevated blood pressure and elevated fasting blood glucose.
The HIV epidemic remains a public health issue in Namibia despite significant achievements made by the Ministry of Health and Social Services to expand HIV treatment services. In 2001, there were an estimated 210,000 people living with HIV/AIDS, and the estimated death toll in 2003 was 16,000. According to the 2011 UNAIDS Report, the epidemic in Namibia “appears to be leveling off.” As the HIV/AIDS epidemic has reduced the working-aged population, the number of orphans has increased. It falls to the government to provide education, food, shelter and clothing for these orphans. A Demographic and Health Survey with an HIV biomarker was completed in 2013 and served as the fourth comprehensive, national-level population and health survey conducted in Namibia as part of the global Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) programme. The DHS observed important characteristics associated to the HIV epidemic:
Overall, 26 percent of men aged 15–49 and 32 percent of those aged 50–64 have been circumcised. HIV prevalence for men age 15–49 is lower among circumcised (8.0 percent) than among uncircumcised men (11.9 percent). The pattern of lower HIV prevalence among circumcised than uncircumcised men is observed across most background characteristics. For each age group, circumcised men have lower HIV prevalence than those who are not circumcised; the difference is especially pronounced for men age 35–39 and 45–49 (11.7 percentage points each). The difference in HIV prevalence between uncircumcised and circumcised men is larger among urban than rural men (5.2 percentage points versus 2.1 percentage points).
HIV prevalence among respondents age 15–49 is 16.9 percent for women and 10.9 percent for men. HIV prevalence rates among women and men age 50–64 are similar (16.7 percent and 16.0 percent, respectively).
HIV prevalence peaks in the 35–39 ages for both women and men (30.9 percent and 22.6 percent, respectively). It is lowest among respondents age 15–24 (2.5–6.4 percent for women and 2.0–3.4 percent for men).
Among respondents age 15–49, HIV prevalence is highest for women and men in Zambezi (30.9 percent and 15.9 percent, respectively) and lowest for women in Omaheke (6.9 percent) and men in Ohangwena (6.6 percent).
In 76.4 percent of the 1,007 cohabiting couples who were tested for HIV in the 2013 NDHS, both partners were HIV negative; in 10.1 percent of the couples, both partners were HIV positive; and 13.5 percent of the couples were discordant (that is, one partner was infected with HIV and the other was not).
As of 2015, the Ministry of Health and Social Services and UNAIDS produced a Progress Report in which UNAIDS projected HIV prevalence among 15 – 49 year olds at 13.3% [12.2% – 14.5%] and an estimated 210 000 [200 000 – 230 000] living with HIV.
The malaria problem seems to be compounded by the AIDS epidemic. Research has shown that in Namibia the risk of contracting malaria is 14.5% greater if a person is also infected with HIV. The risk of death from malaria is also raised by approximately 50% with a concurrent HIV infection. The country had only 598 physicians in 2002.