SA bucks world trend

LIFE EX­PECTANCY: Steady in­crease

Weekend Witness - - News -

GENEVA — Av­er­age life ex­pectan­cies are in­creas­ing steadily in most of the world, but women in South Africa and men in Iraq are buck­ing that trend with notable drops in their time on earth.

The World Health Or­gan­i­sa­tion (WHO) said yes­ter­day, in South Africa life ex­pectancy for women fell to 55 years from 59 years in 2000 and 68 years in 1990 — a re­flec­tion of the coun­try’s high HIV in­fec­tion rate. Men’s life ex­pectancy in 2009 re­mained sta­ble at 54 years com­pared with the fig­ure nine years ear­lier, but was down from 59 in 1990.

The av­er­age life ex­pectancy in Iraq fell to 66 years in 2009 from 68 years in 2000 — when dic­ta­tor Sad­dam Hus­sein was still in power.

Iraqi girls born in 2009 could still ex­pect to live to 70, boys’ life ex­pectancy dropped sharply to 62 years, com­pared with 65 years in 2000.

“The fig­ures re­flect the chaos from the con­flict and the im­pact on health sys­tems,” said Colin Mathers, one of the co-or­di­na­tors of WHO’s World Health Sta­tis­tics re­port.

Chad, the Do­mini­can Repub­lic and Ja­maica were the only other na­tions where av­er­age life ex­pectancy dropped be­tween 2000 and 2009.

Fig­ures on life ex­pectancy are the clear­est sin­gle in­di­ca­tor of health around the world. And glob­ally, they are in­creas­ing.

A girl born to­day can ex­pect to live for 71 years. This is up from 68 years at the start of the cen­tury.

Men lagged be­hind, with a global av­er­age life ex­pectancy of 66 years, up from 64 years, the re­port found.

Com­bined fig­ures showed an in­crease of two years since 2000, to 68.

In the U.S., fe­male life ex­pectancy at birth av­er­aged 81 years in 2009, up from 80 years in 2000. Amer­i­can boys born to­day can ex­pect to live for 76 years, WHO said. A five-year gap be­tween the sexes is av­er­age across much of the world. — Sapa-AP.

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