Cape Verde Country health profile


The Cape Verde Country Health Profile provides an overview of the situation and trends of priority health problems and the health systems profile, including a description of institutional frameworks, trends in the national response, key issues and challenges. Its purpose is to promote evidence-based health policymaking through a comprehensive and rigorous analysis of the dynamics of health situations and health systems in the country.

The profiles are updated on a periodic basis.

icon Cape Verde Health statistics profile 2010 Overview (56.23 kB)

icon Cape Verde Factsheets of Health Statistics 2010 (390.21 kB)

icon Country Health Profile of Cape Verde - 2006 (338.64 kB)

Cape Verde

Cape Verde has a total surface area of only 4033 sq km. It consists of a series of ten islands and eight smaller ones. These islands are geologically derived from volcanoes. Situated in the Atlantic Ocean and near the extreme part of West Africa, bordering the Sahel, the climate is tropical and arid with a wet and dry season.


With a total population of 432 812 inhabitants, of which the majority is youth, and a very dry climate, agricultural production has been a big challenge. These challenges have made the prospects of emigration attractive to Cape Viridians. It is therefore not surprising that many more Cape Viridians live outside rather than inside the country. The estimated population of Cape Viridians who live outside the country is 518 180. Repatriation of funds back home forms a significant part of the gross national income.


The economy of the country is based on service provision. There is a high level of education, with over 90% literacy, and the development index is 91 out of 171. GNP is estimated to be US$ 1354 and the internal debt is estimated to be more than 40% of gross national earnings. Above all, the country is heavily dependent on donor support for its economy, which makes its macroeconomic situation rather difficult with a poor balance of payments. On the positive side, Cape Verde is a stable democracy, which is an important factor for sustained development.

Health and development

The health indices of Cape Verde are above the average for the African continent: life expectancy is 70 years, and the current under-five mortality rate is 35 per 1000 live births. Similarly, the maternal mortality ratio is 76 per 100 000 live births which is significantly less than the average for the region. Many factors have contributed to this rapid improvement in the health status of the population, including a concerted interest by government in health development, including liberalization of the economy, community participation and mobilization and democratization of the administrative system.

Health system

The health system is largely decentralized along central and district lines, with central referral hospitals at the pinnacle of the structure. The Ministry of Health has two large divisions that manage policy and national plans, while the district government mostly provides services. There is a good referral system, which ensures access to the health system. Nevertheless, a poor definition of how the system works has made the population seek health care directly from the central facilities, which are perceived to be better. Nonetheless, the rate of referrals from districts to central hospitals is high, especially for complicated cases.

Population coverage with respect to health services is very high, at over 80%. Integration of preventive services has resulted in a high vaccination coverage and high coverage for preventive services and antenatal care. A policy for essential medicines has ensured the adequate provision of medicines in the country.

Health financing

The proportion of the national budget allocated to health is about 6.3% – which is a long way from the Abuja 15% target. However, the per capita expenditure is actually US$ 22.5, which is higher than the average for the region (although it should be noted that the health sector depends on external aid for 97% of its budget).

Epidemiological profile

Given its profile, it is not surprising that Cape Verde suffers from a double burden of communicable and increasing noncommunicable disease

Health opportunities and challenges


  • Democratization and decentralization of the health system
  • Donor confidence in the system


  • Increasing prevalence of communicable diseases
  • Increasing levels of substance abuse among the youth
  • Over-dependency on external aid for the health sector
  • Poor donor coordination
  • High levels of poverty
  • Weak management within the health system
  • Poor human resource base for health development