1241 GMT September 23, 2018
Worldwide, people are living longer than they were a decade ago, in large part because deaths from infectious diseases and childbirth complications have decreased. But people across the globe are living more years in poor health, particularly in countries where access to health care is problematic, minnpost.com wrote.
And deaths from conflict and terrorism have more than doubled in the past decade.
Those are some of the key findings from the latest Global Burden of Disease report published in a series of articles in The Lancet. This marks the 20th year of the report, which is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
“Death is a powerful motivator, both for individuals and for countries, to address diseases that have been killing us at high rates,” said Dr. Christopher Murray, coauthor of the report and director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington in Seattle, in a released statement.
“But, we’ve been much less motivated to address issues leading to illnesses. A ‘triad of troubles’ — obesity, conflict, and mental illness, including substance use disorders — poses a stubborn and persistent barrier to active and vigorous lifestyles.”
The average global life expectancy in 2016 was 72.5 years — 75.3 years for women and 69.8 years for men — according to the report. That’s up from 65.1 years in 1990 and from 58.4 years in 1970.
Japan had the highest life expectancy in 2016 (83.9 years), while the Central African Republic had the lowest (50.2 years).
Average life expectancy in the United States was 78.9 years in 2016 — only the 58th highest life expectancy in the world.
The report called out five countries — Ethiopia, the Maldives, Nepal, Niger, Portugal and Peru — for having shown improvements in their life expectancies that exceeded expectations. Peru and Niger, for example, had life expectancies about six years longer than would be expected based on their levels of economic development.
The report also notes that the life-expectancy gaps between wealthy and poor nations are shrinking.
A driving factor behind rising global life expectancies is the dramatic drop in early deaths from communicable diseases and from complications related to childbirth. Deaths from lower respiratory infections, diarrhea, HIV/AIDS, malaria and preterm birth all declined by 25 percent or more between 2006 and 2016.
A major exception to that trend, however, was dengue fever. Deaths from that mosquito-borne disease have increased by 81.8 percent since 2006, to 37,800 in 2016.
One of the most encouraging findings in the study involved young children, who often die of complications from an early birth. In 2016, fewer than 5 million children under the age of 5 died, compared to 11 million in 1990 and 16.4 million in 1970.
The report cites several factors for these positive milestones in global health, including higher levels of education among women, lower levels of poverty, wider use of vaccinations, safer water and sanitation systems, and greater distribution of anti-malaria bed nets.
On the other hand, noncommunicable diseases — such as heart disease, stroke, cancer and diabetes — are now responsible for almost three out of four (72.3 percent) of early deaths.