The Philippine Star

Life expectancy grew by five years since 2000

- Sheila Crisostomo

Dramatic gains in life expectancy have been made globally since 2000 but major inequaliti­es still persist within and among countries, a report of the World Health Organizati­on (WHO) shows.

According to this year’s “World Health Statistics: Monitoring Health for Sustainabl­e Developmen­t Goals,” life expectancy increased by five years between 2000 and 2015, the fastest increase since the 1960s.

The report shows those gains reverse declines during the 1990s, when life expectancy fell in Africa because of the AIDS epidemic and in Eastern Europe following the collapse of the Soviet Union.

The increase was greatest in the African region where life expectancy increased by 9.4 years to 60 years, driven mainly by improvemen­ts in child survival, progress in malaria control and expanded access to anti-retroviral­s for treatment of HIV.

“The world has made great strides in reducing the needless suffering and premature deaths that arise from preventabl­e and treatable diseases,” said WHO director-general Margaret Chan.

Chan, however, noted that the “gains have been uneven.”

“Supporting countries to move towards universal health coverage based on strong primary care is the best thing we can do to make sure no one is left behind,” she added.

Global life expectancy for children born in 2015 was 71.4 years (73.8 years for females and 69.1 years for males), but an individual child’s outlook depends on where he or she is born.

Newborns in 29 countries with highincome have an average life expectancy of 80 years or more, while newborns in 22 others in sub-Saharan Africa have life expectancy of less than 60 years.

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