Major health problems include bilharzia, typhoid, tapeworm, gastroenteritis, malaria, kwashiorkor, and pellagra. In 1999, there were an estimated 564 cases of tuberculosis per 100,000 people.
In 1990, there were 83 doctors, 7 dentists, 13 pharmacists, and 1,264 nurses. As of 1999, there were an estimated 0.2 physicians per 1,000 people. Traditional healers are still consulted by over 80% of the population. 1990 only about 43% of the population had access to safe water, and 36% had adequate sanitation in 1993. About 56% of the population had access to health care services in 1990.
About 27% of married women used contraceptives in 1989–90. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 39.6 and 23.2 per 1,000 people. In 2000, average life expectancy was 46 years. The infant mortality rate was 89 per 1,000 live births. The immunization rates for children under one year of age were as follows in 1995: diphtheria and pertussis, 96%; polio, 96%; measles, 94%; tuberculosis, 100%; and tetanus, 75%. As of 1999, rates for DPT and measles were, respectively, 99% and 82%.
At the end of 2001, the number of people living with HIV/AIDS was estimated at 170,000 (including 33.4% of the adult population, the highest rate in the world except for Zimbabwe) and deaths from AIDS that year were estimated at 12,000. HIV prevalence in 1999 was 25.3 per 100 adults.