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Healthcare Sector of Burundi

Overview of Healthcare Sector of Burundi; an East African country

  • April 27, 2022
  • 3 mins read

Burundi is an East African country, officially known as the Republic of Burundi. Burundi has the severest hunger and malnourishment rates of all 120 countries ranked in the Global Hunger Index. According to the data of WHO, the health situation in Burundi remains relatively weak. The crude mortality rate is 15 per 1000 (2008 Population Census). This situation is associated mainly with the fragility of the health system, the heavy burden of infectious diseases, chronic non-communicable diseases, neglected tropical diseases, the vulnerability of mothers, children, and adolescents, and the role of the determinants of health (demographic pressure owing to a density of more than 310 people per km2, and very high rates of acute and chronic malnutrition, 6% and 58% respectively, in children between 0-5).

The most dominant diseases in the epidemiological profile are infectious diseases that particularly affect the health of pregnant women and children, the most vulnerable population groups. The most prevalent diseases in this category are malaria, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, diarrhoeal diseases, vaccine-preventable diseases, and acute respiratory infections. Diabetes and high blood pressure coexist in 30% of cases, according to a study done at the Kamenge University Hospital Center, and are responsible for 73.17% of degenerative complications.

Regarding the implementation of international agreements and commitments, very
significant progress has been made on Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 6. Moreover,
Burundi has just adopted an MDG acceleration framework for MDG 4 and 5 and, with the
support of its partners, has committed itself to accelerating all MDGs that still report mixed
results. A bill on the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control is under review.

Current Healthcare situation

Accessibility to healthcare in Burundi continues to be an issue for civilians, shown through the rise in deaths that diseases and epidemics caused. COVID-19 has affected the country and posed a threat to the already fragile healthcare system, with records of 104 cases and one death as of June 16, 2020. However, there were already questions about the need for more resources and vaccines long before this virus. Without proper treatment or preventative care, diseases like measles, malaria, and many other infectious diseases put the population at risk.
In April 2019, measles cases increased to 857, and refugees were reportedly spreading it to communities from refugee camps. Meanwhile, there were 504 cases as of March 2020. Out of the 18 provinces of Burundi, 63% of those districts face a high risk of infection. Low immunity and vaccination rates are two factors putting communities in compromising positions.

Malaria is an ongoing epidemic in Burundi that has claimed the lives of more than 3,170 people, and it continues to spread. Reports determine that the number of cases is 1.2 million, showing a slight decline in cases compared to the 1.7 million in 2019. Malaria is treatable and preventable through vaccination and the proper medication; however, access to these supplies and resources is scarce.

Plans for the upliftment of the healthcare system

The numbers on infection and mortality rates of treatable and preventable diseases in Burundi show a need for redirection. Seeing this need, various organizations have proposed ways to spotlight the lack of funding for healthcare systems and supplies and provide the funding necessary to see progress. Here are a few ways organizations are addressing this:

  • In April of 2020, the World Bank and International Development Association (IDA) put a $5 million grant into motion to prevent and counter the spread of COVID-19 and reinforce the preparedness of the health care system of Burundi as a whole. These funds will assist the country’s healthcare system to receive necessary testing and treatments for existing diseases and epidemics. The World Bank will disburse $160 billion over 15 months to “protect the poor and vulnerable, support businesses, and bolster economic recovery.”
  • Dr. Norbert Mugabo, a medical officer from Cibitoke province, set out to vaccinate more than 17,000 children as part of a measles vaccination initiative in April of 2020. Dr. Mugabo hopes to reach children between 9 months and 15 years in light of the outbreak in November 2019.
  • The International Rescue Committee set many goals to aid Burundi in 2020. It determined that its main avenue for providing comprehensive better healthcare is starting with the basics. For example, the IRC intends to rebuild hand washing stations, boost hygiene, and address sanitation issues. These small steps forward can make a big difference long term.


The link between poverty and health is now well known, and health is recognized as an essential requirement for economic development. Yet there are hundreds of thousands of Burundians who have no access to basic health care due to their inability to pay for it. Burundi today faces a great many challenges. In addition to the difficulties in guaranteeing access to health care due to the high cost of consultations in public health facilities, aid agencies are still having major difficulties reaching the most vulnerable people. Aid agencies are also searching for ways to handle the massive return of refugees expected later this year.