The Gross National Product (GNP) in Namibia accounted for 2,210 US$ in 1997, well above average GNP in Sub-Saharan-Africa (480) and Lower-middle income countries (1,710). However, Namibia's income distribution is one of the most unequal in the world.

In 1996 AIDS overtook tuberculosis as the main killer disease. There were 1,539 registered deaths from AIDS in 1998, compared with 847 from TB and 723 from malaria, which is endemic in the north. The epidemic has dramatically reduced averaged life expectancy from 57 years in 1990 to 50 in 1998 and is expected to decrease to 46.5 in 2000.The Infant Mortality Rate was 63 per 1000 life births in 1995. In 1995-98, 85% of one year old infants were immunised for TB, 74% for DPT, 74% for Polio and 63% for measles. The maternal mortality rate reached 230 per 100,000 life births. Data collected in 1991 revealed that only 43% of the rural population could access safe water supply while less than 20% had toilets.

There is widespread undernutrition among children less than five years of age throughout Namibia. In the 1992 National Demographic and Health Survey, 28% of children were found to be stunted, almost 9% of the children in the survey were wasted and 26% of the children nation-wide were underweight. Children in the north-eastern region experienced the highest rates of underweight and stunting, while wasting was most prevalent in the Central region.

According to the DHS survey, the mean BMI in non-pregnant women was 22.5 and 14% had a BMI below 18.5, indicating Chronic Energy Deficiency. Women in the Central and South regions were much better nourished than women in the two northern regions. Around one third of the Namibian population between 6 and 21 years old suffered from iodine deficiency in 1990, while 22% of 1,831 school-aged children were found to be iodine deficient in 1992. The prevalence ranged from 1.8% in Gobabis in the South Central region to 61.4% in Choi, which is situated in Caprivi. Children below 5 years of age were most at risk. In the north-western and north-eastern areas, the prevalence of goitre in children below 5 years reached 65% and 27%, respectively.

The report of the Health Information System, 1993, report the prevalence of xerophthalmia to be highest in the north-west regions of Namibia, both in children under (73%) and in adults (65%). Most cases of anaemia have also been reported in the north-western regions, where 55% of children under five years and 59% among five years and older seem to suffer from anaemia.

© FAO 2010