Life expectancy at birth in Maldives in 1994 was 63.2 years for males, 66.1 for females, and 64.7 overall. The death rate was estimated at seven per 1,000 in 1994. Infant mortality was estimated at 53.8 per 1,000 live births in 1994, a dramatic decrease from the rate of 120 per 1,000 in the 1970s. Nutrition is an important factor affecting health. In the 1980s, the daily average intake of calories was estimated at 1,781.
Waterborne and tropical communicable diseases are prevalent as the result of an inadequate drinking water supply. In Maldives the freshwater table is shallow and easily contaminated by organic and human waste. To combat these problems, the Male Water Supply and Sewerage Project was launched in 1985. Its completion in 1988 allowed sewer pipes to collect sewage for pumping into the sea. However, in the outer islands no such sewage systems exist. The government has promoted the construction of ferrocement rainwater tanks in recent years to help ensure safe drinking water in the outer islands. Major diseases include gastroenteritis, typhoid, and cholera. Malaria, tuberculosis, filariasis, eye infections, poliomyelitis, venereal diseases, and leprosy are also reported. Since the late 1970s, a number of disease-eradication projects have been organized with assistance from the WHO.
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