The double mortality burden among adults in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2006-2009

Type Journal Article - Preventing chronic disease
Title The double mortality burden among adults in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 2006-2009
Volume 9
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2012

In Ethiopia, lack of reliable data on causes of death prevents full understanding of the double mortality burden of communicable and noncommunicable diseases. Our objective was to help bridge this research gap by analyzing surveillance data on causes of death in Addis Ababa.


Burial surveillance identified 58,010 deaths in Addis Ababa from 2006 through 2009, of which 49,309 were eligible for verbal autopsies, a method of interviewing caregivers of the deceased about the circumstances, signs, and symptoms preceding death. We randomly selected 10% from the eligible sample, of whom 91% were defined as adults (aged ≥15 y). Verbal autopsies were completed and causes of death were assigned for 3,709 adults.


Overall, 51% (95% confidence interval [CI], 49.7%-52.9%) of deaths were attributed to noncommunicable diseases, 42% (95% CI, 40.6%-43.8%) to communicable diseases, and 6% (95% CI, 5.5%-7.0%) to injuries. Similar proportions of male and female deaths were caused by noncommunicable and communicable diseases. Adults aged 55 to 84 were more likely, and those aged 15 to 44 were less likely, to die from noncommunicable diseases compared with the age group 85 or older. Premature deaths (defined as earlier than age 65) from noncommunicable diseases were mainly due to certain cancers, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, hypertension, stroke, and genitourinary disease.


Noncommunicable diseases are the leading cause of death among adults in Addis Ababa, where the health care system is still geared toward addressing communicable diseases. Health policy attention is needed to remedy this situation. This observed double mortality burden is unlikely to be unique to Addis Ababa and provides new insight into the epidemiological transition in urban Ethiopia. Nationwide studies should be conducted in Ethiopia to examine the pattern of epidemiological transition and the magnitude of double mortality burden.

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