Health & Welfare

The Commonwealth is home to 2.2 billion people - that is, about one-third of the world’s population. However, in terms of health challenges the Commonwealth tends to carry more than its fair share:

  • Just over half of the estimated 289,000 maternal deaths 
recorded globally in 2013 occurred in Commonwealth countries
  • About 3.2 million children under five years old died in 
Commonwealth countries in 2015; that is over half of the current global child mortality estimate of 5.9 million deaths
  • More than half of the people living with HIV/AIDS in the world (37 million) live in Commonwealth countries (22 million)
  • Of those living with HIV/AIDS in Commonwealth countries, just over a third are estimated to have access to anti-retroviral therapy
  • Of the 198 million malaria cases worldwide in 2013, more than half occurred in the Commonwealth
  • The majority (>80%) of the 38 million premature global deaths due to non-communicable diseases (NCDs) occur in low- and middle-income countries, which make up the largest part of the Commonwealth membership.
  • During the recent ebola virus disease outbreak in West Africa more than 12,000 people were infected in Sierra Leone, a Commonwealth country, and 3,865 people died as a result.

Faced with these challenges, the Commonwealth is focused on assisting member countries in their efforts to achieve the new Sustainable Development Goals – in particular the health related ones - helping to translate them into national and local realities and interventions that will benefit their citizens.

Priority areas for the Commonwealth include: strengthening health policies and frameworks to 
offer a healthier future to all Commonwealth citizens; strengthening health systems for universal health coverage and for addressing non-communicable diseases; scaling up capacity and impact in priority countries to reduce inequalities; and facilitating knowledge sharing, innovation and collaborative working across the Commonwealth.

We aim to assist the Commonwealth in serving as a leading source for health information, communication and collaboration.

Did you know?

  • More than half of the people living with HIV/AIDS in the world (37 million) live in Commonwealth countries (22 million)

  • It is predicted that, in the next 5 years, people aged over 65 years will outnumber children under five years old. This ageing population is reflected in the rise in non-communicable diseases.

Source: Commonwealth Secretariat. See more at