Wednesday February 19, 2020

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.

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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.

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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)

Next Story

WHO Committee Warns About Ebola Outbreak in Congo

Ebola in Eastern DRC Remains Global Health Threat

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Medical workers lead a young girl with suspected Ebola into the unconfirmed Ebola patients ward run by The Alliance for International Medical Action (ALIMA). VOA

A World Health Organization Emergency Committee warns the Ebola outbreak in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo remains a global health threat despite significant progress in containing the spread of this deadly virus.   WHO reports a total of 3,431 cases of Ebola, including 2,253 deaths in North Kivu and Ituri provinces.

The Emergency Committee declared the outbreak in DRC a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, or PHEIC, last July.  In reviewing the current situation, members of the Committee decided it was premature to declare the global threat over.

WHO Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, says he accepts the Committee’s advice.

“As long as there is a single case of Ebola in an area as insecure and unstable as eastern DRC, the potential remains for a much larger epidemic,” he said.

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Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus speaks during a news conference after a meeting of the Emergency Committee on the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in Geneva, Switzerland. VOA

WHO has revised its risk assessment from very high to high at national and regional levels, and low at the global level.  Last week, it reports only three new cases of the disease in North Kivu’s Beni Health Zone.  Tedros calls these signs extremely positive.

“But even as we near the end of this outbreak, we must act now to prevent the next one…Only half of health facilities have access to water.  Strengthening a health system may not be as sexy as responding to an outbreak, but it is equally important,” he said.

Tedros is traveling to DRC’s capital Kinshasa on Thursday.  The WHO chief says he will meet President Felix Tshisekedi and other senior ministers to explore ways to strengthen DRC’s health system.

Chair of the Emergency Committee, Robert Steffen explains why the group decided to maintain the PHEIC despite cautious optimism that the Ebola epidemic was winding down.

Also Read- US Health Officials Prepare to Battle Flu Season as Coronavirus Fear Rises

“We do see a risk of some resurgence and also a risk of complacency if we would now suddenly abandon this PHEIC despite of the fact that we still occasionally still see new cases,” he said.

Another problem, Steffen says, is lack of money.  He says WHO needs $83 million to carry out its Ebola operation until June.  So far, less than half of the required amount has been received. (VOA)