Sunday September 22, 2019

Global Life Expectancy Up by 5.5 Years Between 2000 and 2016, Says WHO

At a global scale, girls born in 2016 are expected to live to the age of 74.2, while and boys on average will make it to 69.8 years, the report showed

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FILE - Jasmilfer, 23, a Venezuelan from Monagas state, holds her five-day-old baby Arjunea at a maternity hospital in Boa Vista, Roraima state, Brazil, Aug. 21, 2018. VOA

Global life expectancy grew by 5.5 years between 2000 and 2016, the World Health Organization said Thursday, warning though that unequal income and access to healthcare translates into far shorter lives for many.

The U.N. health agency also stressed significant gender differences in life expectancy worldwide. On average, a child born in 2016 can expect to live 72 years, up from 66.5 in 2000, according to the annual World Health Statistics report.

The first 16 years of the century saw dramatic drops in deaths among children under five, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, where progress has been made against malaria, measles and other communicable diseases, WHO said.

Life expectancy has also increased thanks to advances against HIV/AIDS, which ravaged much of Africa in the 1990s.

life expectancy
People in low-income countries live 18 fewer years on average than those in high-income nations, statistics showed. Pixabay

But despite progress in poorer countries, WHO said there remained significant life expectancy gaps between developed and developing nations.

People in low-income countries live 18 fewer years on average than those in high-income nations, statistics showed.

In Lesotho, for instance, people on average live to be just 52, or 53 in the Central African Republic 53 years of age, compared to over 83 for Switzerland and over 84 in Japan.

While most people who die in rich countries are old, nearly one in three deaths in poorer countries are children under five, WHO said.

‘Shocking differences’

For the first time, WHO broke down its global health statistics by sex, clearly showing that females have better longevity prospects than males. At birth, babies are more likely to be male than female, with some 73 million boys expected to be born this year, compared to 68 million girls, WHO said.

life expectancy
For the first time, WHO broke down its global health statistics by sex, clearly showing that females have better longevity prospects than males. VOA

But due to greater biological frailty and riskier behaviours, mortality rates tend to be higher among boys and men, and the ratio shifts as the population ages. At a global scale, girls born in 2016 are expected to live to the age of 74.2, while and boys on average will make it to 69.8 years, the report showed.

One reason why women appear to live longer is that they tend to be better about using available healthcare.

In countries facing HIV epidemics, for instance, women are far more likely to take HIV tests and access antiretroviral therapies than their male counterparts. Female TB patients are also more likely to seek treatment, WHO said.

It is therefore perhaps not surprising that the gap between men’s and women’s life expectancy is narrowest in places where women lack access to health services.

In low-income countries with scarcer services, one in 41 women die from maternal causes, compared to one in 3,300 women in high-income countries. These are “shocking differences”, WHO’s head of data and analytics, Samira Asma, told reporters.

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One reason why women appear to live longer is that they tend to be better about using available healthcare. VOA

ALSO READ: Women Live on Average 4.4 Years Longer than Men. Why?

Overall, the statistics showed that life expectancy has risen in most countries, including significant jumps in places like Eritrea, where people on average are now expected to live 22 years longer than the 43 years predicted in 2000.

In Syria, meanwhile, which has been ravaged by eight years of conflict, life expectancy dropped by a decade, from 73 years in 2000 to 63.8 years in 2016.

People in the United States have meanwhile seen their life expectancy slip from 79 years in 2014 to 78.5 years two years later, the WHO numbers showed. Asma said the drop was in part driven by the obesity epidemic. (VOA)

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WHO Calling for Urgent Action to End Bad Health Care Practices Responsible for Killing Millions of Patients

WHO issued a report in advance of the first World Patient Safety Day on September 17

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WHO, Health Care, Patients
Intravenous bags hang above young cancer patients at Rady's Children Hospital in San Diego, California, Sept. 4, 2019. VOA

The World Health Organization is calling for urgent action to end bad health care practices responsible for killing millions of patients around the world every year.  WHO issued a report in advance of the first World Patient Safety Day on September 17.

People who fall ill go to their doctor or sign themselves into a hospital in the expectation of receiving treatment that will cure them. Unfortunately, in many cases the treatment they receive will kill them

The World Health Organization reports one in 10 patients is harmed in high-income countries. It says 134 million patients in low-and-middle-income countries are harmed because of unsafe care leading to 2.6 million deaths annually. WHO notes most of these deaths are avoidable.

Neelam Dhingra-Kuram is WHO coordinator of Patient Safety and Risk Management. She said harm occurs mainly because of wrong diagnosis, wrong prescriptions, the improper use of medication, incorrect surgical procedures and health care associated infections.

WHO, Health Care, Patients
The World Health Organization is calling for urgent action to end bad health care practices responsible for killing millions of patients around the world every year. Pixabay

“But the major reason for this harm is that in the health care facilities, in the system there is lack of patient safety culture. And, that means that the leadership is not strong enough…So, lack of open communication, lack of systems to learn from mistakes and errors. So, already suppose errors are happening and harm is taking place. If you do not learn from it, it is really a lost opportunity,” she said.

Dhingra-Kuram said systems must be created where health care workers are encouraged to report mistakes and are not fearful of being blamed for reporting errors.

Besides the avoidable and tragic loss of life, WHO reports patient harm leads to economic losses of trillions of dollars globally each year. It says medication errors alone cost an estimated $42 billion annually.

Also Read- New York Government Pushing to Enact Statewide Ban on Sale of Flavored E-Cigarettes

On the other hand, WHO says a study in the United States finds safety improvement in patient care has resulted in estimated savings of $28 billion in Medicare hospitals between 2010 and 2015. (VOA)