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Life Expectancy Has Increased Worldwide, Report On Global Health Finds

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The mortality rate around the world shows that people are living longer now. But while deaths from infectious diseases and premature births are dropping, deaths caused by heart disease, terrorism and armed conflict are increasing, a new report states.

Called the Global Burden of Disease, the study examined the state of the planet’s health by looking at average life expectancies, the number of deaths, illnesses and injuries from over 300 causes, Live Science reports.

The average lifespan is now 72.5 years (75.3 years for women and 69.8 years for men), the report found. This is up from the average of 65.1 in 1990, and 58.4 in 1970. Japan had the highest life expectancy in 2016 at 83.9 years, while the Central African Republic had the lowest at just 50.2 years.

There were round 54.7 million deaths in 2016 worldwide, nearly a quarter of which were from “non-communicable diseases,” including heart disease, stroke and cancer. Around 19% of deaths were caused by communicable diseases, maternal diseases, neonatal diseases and nutritional diseases (CMNN). Only 8% deaths were due to injuries.

From 2006 to 2016, the total number of deaths caused by communicable, maternal, neonatal and nutritional diseases dropped by 24%. There has been particular progress in reducing mortality rates for children under five years old, who are susceptible to respiratory infections and death due to birthing complications. The number of deaths for kids under five years dropped below five million for the first time since the 1990s.

Death caused by HIV/AIDS among children and adults also went down by 46% since 2006, while deaths due to malaria have dropped 26% since 2006.

The researchers stated,

Patterns of global health are clearly changing, with more rapid declines in CMNN conditions than for other diseases and injuries.

While the drop in deaths caused by these diseases is “laudable,” there should be a greater priority on non-communicable diseases, the researchers said.

The number of deaths from conflict and terrorism rose by a significant 143% since 2006, reaching 150,500 deaths in 2016 alone, largely because of situations in North Africa and the Middle East. Rates of death for opioid use and drug abuse in high-income countries also jumped, with over 1.1 billion people worldwide battling mental or substance use problems.

The report was published in The Lancet.

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