Pneumonia now Kenya’s number one killer disease

Reports in the month of May 2016 claimed that in 2015, pneumonia dislodged malaria as the top killer of Kenyans with deaths resulting from HIV, Tuberculosis (TB) and meningitis declining. This brief will be looking at the registered deaths in Kenya by major causes over a five-year period.

Chart 1 above shows the registered deaths by diseases causing them from 2012 to 2016. In 2012, malaria was the leading killer disease, followed by pneumonia, cancer. HIV/Aids was the lowest.

According to the Economic Survey 2017, these four diseases collectively accounted for 32.9 per cent of all reported deaths in the country in 2016. However, we note that the total number of registered deaths by major causes declined by 14.7 per cent to 94,130 cases in 2016, up from 110,352 in 2015.

Malaria recorded a drop of 4,691 cases between 2015 and 2016. This represents a 23 per cent decrease. Pneumonia had dislodged malaria as the top killer in 2015. Malaria also saw a decline in the number of cases between 2015 and 2016, recording 1,178 less cases in 2016 compared to the previous year. It however still remains one of the top killer diseases with a total of 21,295 cases recorded in 2016.

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Cancer cases record an upward trend throughout the five-year period analysed. Between 2015 and 2016, all the other diseases record decreases in the number of cases reported with the exception of cancer. Cancer records an increase of 48 cases; this represents a 0.3 percentage points increase between these years. HIV/Aids recorded a decrease of 1,660 cases in 2016 which represents a 15 percentage point decrease.


From the data above, the leading killer disease in the country currently is pneumonia. This has been the case since 2015. All the top four killer diseases analysed above recorded a decline in the number of cases recorded in 2016, with the exception of cancer.

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