As of 2000, Tajikistan retained the centralized health care system instituted during the Soviet era, with the state funding and providing for most health care services through the Ministry of Health. Although most hospitals have remained open, the number of beds decreased by about one-third during the 1990s. Training of medical personnel is a priority, as the country lost many skilled workers during its civil war. The shortage of skilled nurses is especially pressing. As of 1999, there were an estimated 2 physicians and 8.8 hospital beds per 1,000 people. As of 1999, total health care expenditure was estimated at 6.1% of GDP.
In 2000, there was an infant mortality of 21 per 1,000 live births. As of 2002, the crude birth rate and overall mortality rate were estimated at, respectively, 33 and 8.5 per 1,000 people. The total fertility rate of 5.7 in 1980 had decreased to 3.1 in 2000. The maternal mortality rate was 65 maternal deaths per 100,000 live births in 1998. Life expectancy was 69 years in 2000. The immunization rates for a child under one were as follows in 1990–96: tuberculosis, 69%; diphtheria, pertussis, and tetanus, 82%; polio, 74%; and measles, 97%.
Leading causes of death per 100,000 people in 1990 were communicable diseases and maternal/perinatal causes, 182; noncommunicable diseases, 558; and injuries, 53. In 1992, there were approximately 20,000 war-related deaths. The likelihood of dying after age 65 of heart disease in 1990–93 was 364 per 1,000 for men and 378 per 1,000 for women. In 1991, there were 10,099 deaths due to cardiovascular disease in Tajikistan.
Diphtheria has spread widely throughout the former Soviet Union. In Tajikistan, reported diphtheria cases increased 180% from 680 cases in 1993 to 1,993 cases in 1994. Most cases were reported from the southern region of Kurgan Tyube, which borders Afghanistan. As of 1999, both the number of people living with HIV/AIDS and the number of deaths from AIDS were estimated at fewer than 100. HIV prevalence was lower than 0.01 per 100 adults.