Life ex­pectancy: Why Nige­ri­ans may live longer - Ex­perts

A re­cent study by the United States In­sti­tute for Health Met­rics and Eval­u­a­tion (IHME) pre­dict­ing a sharp rise in life ex­pectancy in Nige­ria comes as a sooth­ing fore­cast as many Nige­ri­ans are no doubt ag­i­tated by the re­al­ity of dy­ing at a rel­a­tively young

Weekly Trust - - News - Ab­dul­la­teef Aliyu, La­gos

Life ex­pectancy in Nige­ria is said to be sharply low com­pared to de­vel­oped coun­tries, es­pe­cially in Europe and Amer­ica. In Nige­ria, it hov­ers be­tween 50 and 60 due to many fac­tors rang­ing from poor stan­dard of liv­ing, de­crepit med­i­cal fa­cil­i­ties and gen­eral lack of ac­cess to pri­mary, secondary and ter­tiary health­care.

All these have con­trib­uted to the abysmal life ex­pectancy rate in Nige­ria. Ex­perts say poor fund­ing of the health sec­tor by suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments have low­ered life ex­pectancy rate and ac­cess to qual­ity health ser­vices is more like a mirage in the coun­try.

While the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO) rec­om­mends 15 per cent bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion to the health sec­tor, Nige­ria’s health bud­get con­tin­ues to hover around four to five per cent.

Amidst this prevalent abysmal fund­ing of the sec­tor, the IHME re­port came as a ray of hope for many Nige­ri­ans who yearn for longevity. The study pre­dicted in­crease in life ex­pectancy in Nige­ria from the cur­rent 65 to 74.

The study by IHME, an in­de­pen­dent global health re­search or­ga­ni­za­tion at the Univer­sity of Wash­ing­ton, finds nearly 50 na­tions gain­ing 10 years or more in life­spans.

For ex­am­ple, Nige­ria, with an av­er­age life ex­pectancy of 65.0 years in 2016, ranked 156th among 195 na­tions.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to the re­port, if re­cent health trends con­tinue, Nige­ria could rank 123rd in 2040 with an av­er­age life ex­pectancy of 74.8 years, an in­crease of 9.8 years.

“Nige­ria’s life ex­pectancy could in­crease by as many as 14.2 years in a bet­ter health sce­nario or as few as 5.1 years in a worse health sce­nario”, the re­port said.

The re­port also ranked other coun­tries which would ex­pe­ri­ence sub­stan­tial rise in life ex­pectancy.

In con­trast, the United States in 2016 ranked 43rd with an av­er­age life­span of 78.7 years. In 2040, life ex­pectancy is fore­cast to in­crease only 1.1 years to 79.8, but drop­ping in rank to 64th. China, on the other hand, had a life­span of 76.3 years in 2016 and is ex­pected to in­crease to 81.9, rais­ing its rank from 68th to 39th in 2040.

The re­port also noted that in 2016, the top 10 causes of pre­ma­ture deaths in Nige­ria were malaria, di­ar­rheal dis­eases, HIV/AIDS, neona­tal en­cephalopa­thy due to birth as­phyxia and trauma, lower res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions, neona­tal preterm birth com­pli­ca­tions, con­gen­i­tal birth de­fects, neona­tal sep­sis, menin­gi­tis, and pro­teinen­ergy mal­nu­tri­tion.

But in 2040, how­ever, the lead­ing causes are ex­pected to be malaria, lower res­pi­ra­tory in­fec­tions, HIV/ AIDS, di­ar­rheal dis­eases, neona­tal en­cephalopa­thy due to birth as­phyxia and trauma, neona­tal preterm birth com­pli­ca­tions, neona­tal sep­sis, con­gen­i­tal birth de­fects, menin­gi­tis and is­chemic heart dis­ease.

The study, pub­lished in the in­ter­na­tional med­i­cal jour­nal The Lancet, projects a sig­nif­i­cant in­crease in deaths from non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases (NCDs), in­clud­ing di­a­betes, chronic ob­struc­tive pul­monary dis­ease (COPD), chronic kidney dis­ease, and lung can­cer, as well as wors­en­ing health out­comes linked to obe­sity.

It sug­gests “great po­ten­tial to al­ter the down­ward tra­jec­tory of health” by ad­dress­ing key risk fac­tors, lev­els of ed­u­ca­tion, and per cap­i­tal in­come.

The fu­ture of the world’s health is not pre-or­dained, and there is a wide range of plau­si­ble tra­jec­to­ries,” the Di­rec­tor of Data Science at the In­sti­tute for Health Met­rics and Eval­u­a­tion (IHME), Dr. Kyle Fore­man, was quoted as say­ing.

“But whether we see sig­nif­i­cant progress or stag­na­tion de­pends on how well or poorly health sys­tems ad­dress key health driv­ers”, he added.

But as cheery as the re­port is, ex­perts be­lieve re­al­iz­ing the pre­dic­tion maybe a mirage un­less there is a de­lib­er­ate move to in­crease health bud­getary al­lo­ca­tion from its present state. The fo­cus, they said, should be on strength­en­ing pri­mary health care which would re­duce the preva­lence of non-com­mu­ni­ca­ble dis­eases which are the lead­ing causes of death.

Mal­lam Auwal Ibrahim Musa, the Ex­ec­u­tive Di­rec­tor, Civil So­ci­ety Leg­isla­tive Ad­vo­cacy Cen­tre (CISLAC), at a re­cent work­shop in La­gos said, “The chal­lenges fac­ing health care in Nige­ria are com­plex and es­sen­tially aris­ing from poor le­gal and reg­u­la­tory frame­works and im­ple­men­ta­tion, eco­nomic and so­cio-cul­tural chal­lenges as well as a dearth of in­fra­struc­ture, health per­son­nel and equip­ment plague the Nige­rian pri­mary health care sys­tem.”

The Pres­i­dent of Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal So­ci­ety of Nige­ria (PSN), Ahmed Yaka­sai said Nige­ria’s health sec­tor is in dire need of fund­ing. He ad­vo­cated the im­ple­men­ta­tion of one per cent rev­enue al­lo­ca­tion from the Con­sol­i­dated Rev­enue Fund to beef up fund­ing in the sec­tor. The one per­cent al­lo­ca­tion was re­cently ap­proved by the Nige­rian Se­nate.

Min­is­ter of Health, Pro­fes­sor Isaac Ade­wole

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