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Namibia: Namibia Health Profile


Namibia Health Profile


At independence, Namibia inherited a fragmented health system based on racial segregation, and marked by a concentration of infrastructure and services in urban areas. Since independence, a number of health sector reforms have taken place based on the Primary Health Care approach, and there has been a significant increase in the coverage of various services. The country has a large, dispersed and complex health infrastructure network consisting of about 1,150 outreach points, 265 clinics, 44 health centres, 30 district hospitals, 3 intermediate hospitals and 1 national referral hospital, inclunding various social welfare service points. The public health sector is structured in a three-tier hierarchy with central, regional and district levels. The central level has devolved authority to 13 MoHSS regional directorates and 34 Districts.

Health remains one of the priorities of the Government, thus receiving a relatively high share of funds from the public purse, and is presently the leading priority area for donors, accounting for 79% of all donor disbursements in Namibia.

Major health development challenges include a high HIV/AIDS prevalence and a concomitant tuberculosis epidemic; a significant burden of malaria; an increasing maternal mortality ratio and stagnating reduction of under-five mortality. Major causes of morbidity part children under five years of age are respiratory diseases and diarrhoea. Child malnutrition is very high, with 29% of children stunted, 17% underweight and 8% wasted (NDHS 2006/07). There is however a high Antenatal Care attendance (94.6%, NDHS, 2006/2007) and 81% of births occur in health facilities (NDHS, 2006/2007). Skilled human resources are scarce and unevenly distributed between the public and private sector inclunding urban and rural areas. It is estimated that non-communicable diseases are on the increase but there is lack of reliable data to establish the diseases pattern. Alcohol abuse is common. There is a decline in fertility and life expectancy at birth - 50 years for females and 48 for males (2001 Census), as opposed to 63 years and 59 years respectively in 1991. This is largely attributable to the impact of HIV/AIDS.

The Ministry of Health and Social Services is implementing its five years National Strategic Plan (2009-2013), which is in line with other national development policies and frameworks. The country has embarked on a series of public health reforms, aimed at improving access to affordable and quality health care by all Namibians.


  • Peace, stability and policy of law;
  • Committed human resources at the WCO level;
  • Perceptions on positive role of WHO;
  • Availability of technical support from Intercountry, Regional and Headquarters level;
  • Ongoing health sector reforms


  • High HIV/AIDS prevalence;
  • Increasing unemployment and poverty;
  • Inadequate human resources;
  • Financial and economic crises;
  • Occurrence of natural disasters (floods and drought);
  • Heavy dependency on voluntary and donor contributions;