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Chart: The changing causes of death in low-income countries

Tariq Khokhar's picture
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Note: Data from World Health Organization Global Health Estimates and as noted in their methodology (PDF) they use the World Bank's Income Classification as of 2014. 

Worldwide, the leading causes of death are changing, and they vary between rich and poor countries. In low-income countries, deaths from communicable diseases such as malaria and HIV/AIDS have fallen, while deaths from non-communicable diseases such as stroke and diabetes are on the rise.

While explanations for these changing causes vary, my colleague Patricio Marquez recently wrote about the global rise in the number of overweight people and people with diabetes.  Patricio notes that this is not only a problem of the rich - or the rich world;  about 80% of people with diabetes live in low- and middle-income countries.  Shifts in society are behind these changes: urbanization is changing traditional diets and lifestyles; and the aging of the population results in the natural deterioration of multiple organ systems which contributes to the onset of diabetes.  

You can explore the data further in this interactive data visualiztion:



Submitted by Thakur on

While this is partially has to put this in context of mortality rate in poor countries and also viz-a-viz the rate death in conflict areas, which has increased recently and most poor or lower income countries. Thanks.

Thanks for the comment - as you suggest, these data are for 2012 and there have likely been changes to what the leading causes of deaths are in individual countries - I'll plan to update the visualization when new data become available.     

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